Around 12:35 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, 2014, the watch standers at Coast Guard Sector Houston/Galveston received a call from the captain of the 585-foot bulk carrier Summer Wind who reported a barge carrying nearly a million gallons of oil had collided with a ship. The barge contained 924,000 gallons of fuel oil and was towed by the motor vessel Miss Susan.
While the Coast Guard did not give an estimate of how much fuel had spilled into the bay, there was a visible sheen of oil, which posed a threat to sensitive shorebird habitat. The conservation director of the Houston Audubon Society, Richard Gibbons, reported the timing could not have been worse as the peak shorebird migration season is approaching.
Officials believe one of the barge’s tanks was breached, which had a capacity of 168,000 gallons of fuel oil. Currently, part of the barge is submerged, with the rest the barge resting on the bottom of the channel. The six crew members of the Miss Susan were all accounted for; two were taken to the hospital to be assessed after Hydrogen Sulfide exposure. To ensure the safety of response workers and to prevent the spread of oil into other areas, a safety zone has been established which restricts vessel traffic in impacted waters.
When someone is injured or dies in a shipping incident, financial recovery may be available. Such recovery is particularly important when permanent, life changing injuries are incurred. Additionally, profits may be affected as business is either slowed or halted all together due to closure and safety measures around the impacted areas. It is important to contact someone who understands the intricacies of the party’s right to recover.
Abraham Watkins offers a free consultation to anyone wishing to pursue a claim for such injuries or fatalities.