On Tuesday, the United States and the State of Texas filed a complaint in the Southern District of Texas against Kirby Inland Marine, LP for an oil spill that occurred in March 2014, which spread throughout Galveston Bay and into the Gulf of Mexico. According to a Wednesday press release, Kirby Inland Marine agreed to pay $15.3 million dollars in damages under the Oil Pollution Act.
On March 22, 2014, a Kirby towboat tried to pass in front of another cargo ship, leading to a Kirby oil tanker leaking 168,000 gallons of oil into Galveston Bay. “Approximately 160 miles of shoreline were oiled as a result of the spill, including sensitive marsh habitat, the national wildlife refuge on Matagorda Island, Mustang Island State Park, and Padre Island National Seashore.” The oil spill harmed marine life, and preventing recreational activities from occurring across the entire affected shoreline. The plaintiffs are suing under Section 1002 of the Oil Pollution Act “for recovery of damages for injuries to, destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of natural resources.”
According to the press release, the defendant agreed to a consent decree in which they would pay $15.3 million in damages under the Oil Pollution Act to resolve both state and federal charges against them. This money will be used by the state and federal government to “restore or ameliorate the impacts to dolphins and other aquatic life, birds, beaches, marshes, and recreational uses along the Texas coast.” Furthermore, Kirby will reimburse the government for unpaid costs. After the plan is finalized after a 30 day public comment period, the government will enact their plan of restoring the affected areas of the oil spill.
The United States of America is represented by Todd Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice – Environmental and Natural Resources Division.