Charter fishing businesses and individuals who have suffered property losses and other costs as a result of the March 22 collision near the Texas City Dike have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against Kirby Inland Marine and Cleopatra Shipping Agency.
The suit was filed March 24 in U.S. District Court in Galveston over the collision of a barge pushed by a tow boat named Miss Susan and a 585-foot bulk carrier, Summer Wind. Kirby Inland Marine owns the vessel Miss Susan, while Cleopatra Shipping Agency owns Summer Wind.
The collision caused the release of oil into Galveston Bay. The barge sank to the bottom of the channel and lies partially submerged, the lawsuit states. At the time of the filing, it was unknown how much of the 924,000 gallons of oil on the barge were released into Galveston Bay, but the spill has had a “wide and devastating effect on Galveston Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the people who use and depend on it,” according to the class action complaint.
The marine fuel oil that was released is a heavy crude that does not evaporate quickly, making it particularly harmful to the environment and difficult to clean up, the complaint states. It is unknown how long marine traffic will be stopped in the ship channel, the complaint states.
The defendants failed to exercise reasonable care to ensure that oil would “expeditiously and adequately” be contained in the immediate vicinity of the ships in the event of a collision, the complaint states.