Investigation far from over in Houston oil spill

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The barge operator that spilled nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil into the Houston Ship Channel, closing one of the nation's busiest seaports for several days, will be fined by Texas regulators regardless of the outcome of state and federal investigations.

Investigators are still trying to pinpoint the cause of last weekend's accident involving a barge owned by Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine Corp., but Texas law considers the company carrying the oil a responsible party, said Greg Pollock, deputy director for the Texas General Land Office's oil spill response division.

"What that will be now I can't say because we don't have a closed case," Pollock said.


Jindal announces deal reached in 'legacy lawsuits'

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The oil and gas industry and landowners say they have reached a compromise on how to handle the clean-up of environmental damage done in drilling years ago.

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced the legislative proposal Thursday, surrounded by industry leaders, lawmakers and the head of the Louisiana Landowners Association.


Correction to Lake Michigan oil spill story

In a story in yesterday afternoon's EnergyGuardian about a BP refinery spilling oil into Lake Michigan, The Associated Press misidentified the source of the initial estimate of the spill's size. That estimate came from BP through the U.S. Coast Guard, and did not originate with the Coast Guard. An early version of the story also said the Coast Guard found "minimal oiling" along the shoreline. That assessment was reached by the Coast Guard, BP and the EPA. The corrected story can be seen here.


Prolonged, expensive legal battle faces owner of barge in channel spill


The legal battle over cleanup, penalties and compensation in the wake of Saturday's oil spill in Texas is likely to be long and expensive for barge owner Kirby Corp., say industry experts, FuelFix reports.


Cleanup of 2 ND oil spills continue; 1 nearly done

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Cleanup is wrapping up on one large oil spill in western North Dakota while work will continue for at least another week on a separate release near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers.

North Dakota Water Quality Director Dennis Fewless says almost 34,000 gallons of crude that spilled from a broken oil pipeline near Alexander last week is nearly cleaned up. He says more than 225 large dump truck loads of oil-tainted soil have been removed.


Ex-BP engineer seeks sentencing delay

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former BP engineer has asked for a delay in his sentencing on an obstruction of justice charge related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Kurt Mix was convicted in December for deleting text messages in what prosecutors said was an attempt to hamper the government's criminal investigation of the spill resulting from the deadly Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. He is scheduled for a sentencing hearing April 23.


Coast Guard: BP let 9 to 18 barrels of oil into Lake Michigan

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An initial assessment of a Lake Michigan oil spill shows between nine and 18 barrels of crude oil entered the lake following a malfunction at BP's sprawling northwestern Indiana refinery, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said Wednesday.

Coast Guard spokesman Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf said the estimate came from BP's initial visual assessment Tuesday of the spill scene at the company's Whiting refinery some 20 miles southeast of downtown Chicago.


EPA: Oil spill affected half-mile of Lake Michigan

WHITING, Ind. (AP) — Crews for oil giant BP worked Tuesday to clean up an undetermined amount of crude oil that spilled into Lake Michigan and affected about a half-mile section of shoreline near Chicago following a malfunction at BP's northwestern Indiana refinery, officials said.

The spill reported Monday afternoon by BP appears to have been contained by company crew members who deployed absorbent booms around the spill site, said Mike Beslow, on-scene coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 5.

BP spokesman Scott Dean said the area affected by the spill was a cove along the Lake Michigan at the company's sprawling Whiting refinery, which covers about 1,400 acres.


Fishermen sue over ship channel collision


Commercial and sport fishermen have filed a class action suit against the companies -- Kirby Inland Marine LP and Cleopatra Shipping Agency Ltd. --  involved in Saturday's collision that shut the Houston Ship Channel and spilled about 168,000 gallons of oil into Galveston Bay, Bloomberg reports.


Houston Ship Channel reopened to limited traffic

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The Coast Guard partially reopened one of the nation's busiest seaports to ship traffic Tuesday, three days after a collision between a barge and a ship spilled up to 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil into the waters south of Houston.

Authorities said ships were being allowed through the Houston Ship Channel after their assessment teams deemed it was clear enough for passage. About 100 ships were waiting Tuesday morning to move through the channel, which connects Southeast Texas to the Gulf of Mexico and is a key route for tourism and traffic to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The Coast Guard began to allow more traffic after a test run of two ships — a Carnival cruise and a boat belonging to the Houston Pilots association. Officials expect it to take about three days for channel traffic to get back to normal.


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