Tank barge operator involved in prior oil spills


by Jeremy Rogalski / KHOU 11 News I-Team


Posted on March 24, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 24 at 7:00 PM

Saturday’s major oil spill wasn’t the first for the company that owned the barge, Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine.

According to the Texas General Land Office, the company held the previous record for oil discharged into Galveston Bay, with a 2001 barge collision that caused a 44,100-gallon spill.

After reviewing other state, federal records, and published reports, the I-Team identified the following incidents:

• February 2007: A 700-gallon spill closed the Intracoastal Waterway near Lake Charles, Louisiana for several hours after fuel being transferred from one tank to another overflowed. Kirby Inland Marine said it has no record of the incident and does not believe it was involved.

• January 2010: A collision between Kirby-owned equipment and the M/V Eagle Otome results in a 462,000-gallon spill. The company said a U.S. Coast Guard and NTSB investigation exonerated Kirby Inland Marine of any and all fault for this accident.

• November 2010: A cargo loading incident in Bayonne, New Jersey results in $93,000 in damages according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration under the U.S. Department of Transportation. Kirby Inland Marine said the incident involved another company prior to its acquisition by Kirby corporation in July 2011.

• April 2013: Fire and multiple explosions at Kirby-owned barges on the Mobile River in Mobile, Alabama. The company said the barges were being cleaned when they exploded under the care, custody and control of ORC shipyard, and that no Kirby personnel were present during the incident.

• March 14, 2014: A Kirby-owned barge loaded with hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel oil collides with a rice-filled cargo ship. The company said its tow was affected by the wake of a third party ship operating at excessive speed in a critical navigation zone. No pollution was released and no one was injured. The incident is still under investigation.

“We have a really good safety record at Kirby and we operate a large number of vessels,” said Jim Guidry, Kirby Corporation Executive Vice President of Vessel Operations.

“Safety is one of our franchises to operate so we focus on safety and navigation safety and training,” Guidry said.

Kirby Inland Marine said since 2005, more than 1000 of its vessels have transported about three billion barrels of cargo without incident.

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