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January 26th, 2010

Possible Causes of Tanker-Barge Accident off Texas Coast

A maritime collision between a tanker and a barge off the Texas coast has caused a massive oil spill in the port of Port Arthur. The southbound barge collided with the northbound tanker in the Sabine-Naches waterway near the Valero refinery.

 An estimated 450,000 gallons of crude oil was spilled into the sea. The Exxon Mobil chartered tanker was loaded with 570,000 gallons of crude oil, which was being carried to the Beaumont refinery. Fortunately, no tanker crews or barge workers were injured in the accident. The tanker Eagle Otome was left with a huge 15 foot by 8 foot gash in the side of the ship. Soon after the collision, there were fears of the release of hydrogen sulfide. Neighboring areas had to be evacuated for fear of injuries, but the vapors dissipated quickly and the danger blew over. Clean up operations are underway.

Investigations into the accident have begun, but typically maritime collisions occur because of human error. Lack of a proper or competent lookout by the watch keeping crew or bridge team has frequently found to be a factor in such accidents. Other factors in a maritime accident may be navigational errors by captains and errors by crewmembers. However, with modern technological aids and navigational technological devices, the risk of such collisions is markedly reduced.  Such collisions don’t have to occur. Even a collision at a low speed can be strong enough to throw crewmembers into other crewmembers and materials, or fall overboard. Injuries and fatalities can result.

The maritime attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent injured tankermen, cooks, deckhands, welders, electricians and other crew members of tankers or freighters, recover compensation for their injuries.

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