Kirby Inland Marine will pay $15.3 million to resolve federal and state claims stemming from a 2014 collision and oil spill in the Houston Ship Channel.
The federal government and the state of Texas sought damages and reimbursements under the Oil Pollution Act stemming from the 2014 incident that spilled 4,000 barrels (168,000 gallons) of oil. The incident happened at the Texas City “Y” crossing near Galveston.
“The complaint alleges that the spill resulted from a collision that occurred while a Kirby towboat, Miss Susan, attempted to push two 300-foot-long oil barges across the Houston Ship Channel in front of the oncoming Summer Wind, a 585-foot-long bulk cargo ship that was already underway in the channel,” the Department of Justice said in a news release.
The oil spill closed the channel and damaged the Texas coastline as far south as Corpus Christi. It impacted birds and aquatic animals and harmed the Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge, the government said.
Kirby Inland Marine, which is based in Houston, will pay $15.3 million in damages stemming from harm to natural resources. Federal and state governments will use the money to restore habitats, beaches and other coastal areas impacted by the spill.
Kirby has paid for the cost of federal and state trustees to determine the damage and plan restoration efforts. Under its settlement agreement, the company will provide reimbursements for any remaining unpaid costs from that effort.
“All oil transporters must take care to operate safely and prevent spills into our nation’s waters,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, from the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a prepared statement. “This case illustrates that the stakes are high, the harms are serious, and the United States and its state partners will diligently pursue and secure compensation for injuries to natural resources resulting from oil spills.”
In 2016, Kirby agreed to a separate $4.9 million settlement under the Clean Water Act stemming from the same incident.
“We do not anticipate the court will have any concerns with the proposed resolution and expect it to be finalized after the customary notice and comment period has expired,” Kirby spokesman Matt Woodruff said in an email.