WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The Department of Justice has announced that Kirby Inland Marine LP has agreed to a $4.9 million settlement to resolve Clean Water Act violation allegations stemming from a 168,000 gallon oil spill in the Houston Ship Channel in March 2014.

 

“This settlement sends a clear message that vessel owners and operators have a responsibility to protect our waters, people and the environment from oil spills and those who violate that duty will be held accountable under the law,” said assistant attorney general John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The remedial measures in this agreement will upgrade navigational equipment, provide employee training and improve operational practices across an entire fleet of vessels.”

 

According to the department, a Kirby tow boat was pushing two 300-foot oil barges in the “Texas City Y” area of the Houston Ship Channel in fog conditions when it struck a cargo ship. As a result, oil allegedly spilled across 160 miles of shoreline – an area that includes sensitive marsh habitat, the national wildlife refuge on Matagorda Island, Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore.

 

“This case illustrates the inherent risk in transporting oil and other chemicals along our waterways,” said the Eighth Coast Guard district commander, Rear Adm. David Callahan. “The Coast Guard remains committed to enforcement, prevention and response with regards to our nation's waterways and natural resources.”

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