January 2011 Archives

January 31, 2011

Bill Tightens Oversight

A new offshore safety bill that includes several of the recommendations made by a presidential panel into the Deepwater Horizon explosion, has just been introduced by House Democrats. According to the group of Democrats, which has been led by Representative Ed Markey-Democrat Massachusetts, the bill would impose a strict oversight on offshore oil companies.

Part of the bill's provisions would include establishing stricter federal controls and oversight of offshore drilling rigs, increased funding for the federal agency charged with offshore safety and establishment of new standards for blowout preventers. Failure of the blowout preventer has been pointed as a cause for the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig disaster. The bill would also prohibit companies with poor safety records from bidding on new gas leases along the US coastline. The bill would also provide for lifting of liability limits in offshore spills.

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January 29, 2011

Crew Evacuated after Toxic Exposure

A crew member on a towing vessel off the coast of Louisiana had to be evacuated after he inhaled certain chemicals, and began to suffer symptoms of poisoning. According to reports, the Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report last Wednesday from the captain of the vessel Lanta Rose, that one of the crewmembers had inhaled an unknown chemical. The crew member was reportedly suffering headaches and vomiting as a result of the exposure.

The Coast Guard launched an evacuation effort, and the man was successfully transferred from the vessel. He was taken to an emergency medical facility, and then transported to a hospital in Louisiana.

January 28, 2011

Dispersants Long-Term Effects

When BP injected toxic dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico as part of their strategy to handle the oil spill for the Deepwater Horizon disaster last April, concerns were raised about the long term effects the dispersants would have on the ecology and food supply in the Gulf region. The chemicals may have simply swept the oil under the rug as opposed to really cleaning up the oil. The chemicals keep the oil off the surface which makes it seem like the oil slick is shrinking. In fact, the oil is merely being deposited in different places where it still does damage.

Pictures of dead shrimp on the ocean bottom are much less damaging on a public relations front than pictures of dead pelicans on the shoreline. The chemical dispersants may have long terms affects on ocean wildlife, and the humans that consume, but those effects are also more likely to be hidden.

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January 27, 2011

Seaman Sues for $5 Million

A Galveston County seaman has filed a lawsuit worth $5 million against his employer, claiming that he was wrongfully terminated from services after he received a head injury.

According to the lawsuit, a former employee of Kinder Morgan Incorporated was injured on 24 March when he was working aboard the vessel, M/V Audrey. According to the lawsuit, the worker was tightening a mechanical wrench when a coworker lost control of a heavy teether bar. The bar flew across, and struck the worker in the head. He sustained serious injuries, and lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness about five hours later in a hospital, he could recall nothing of the accident. He also suffered other injuries to his neck and legs.

He had trouble maintaining balance and could not return to his normal work duties. According to the worker, his employer then decided to terminate his contract. He's now seeking a jury trial and $5 million in damages.

January 24, 2011

Chevron Sued

Tens of thousands of Ecuador residents are the plaintiff in an environmental damages lawsuit against Chevron Oil. Chevron is accused of the 'World's Worst Oil-Related Disaster' and the alleged evidence has been submitted in a lawsuit.

Plaintiff spokesperson Karen Hinton believes that the submitted scientific evidence "proves overwhelmingly that Chevron is responsible for what is widely regarded as the world's worst oil-related disaster."

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January 24, 2011

New Offshore Safety Agency

As part of its efforts to strengthen offshore safety in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion, the federal administration has announced that it will soon establish an agency that will solely be dedicated to offshore safety.

Major changes have been made to offshore safety since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Minerals Management Services evolved into the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. There'll now be a new Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement which will focus on the safety aspects of offshore drilling. It's still not clear which agency will be responsible for issuing drilling permits.

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January 22, 2011

Record Pirate Attacks in 2010

According to a report by the Piracy Reporting Center of the International Maritime Bureau, pirates took a total of 1,181 people hostage last year, and killed eight people in attacks on 445 ships. They further took control of at least 53 ships last year, in spite of combined naval patrols, and emphasis on preventing attacks.

The report documents violent attacks that have occurred off the waters of Indonesia and Nigeria. However, the deadliest waters for seamen continue to be the waters off the coast of Somalia. More than 90% of all ship seizures occurred in these waters last year. As of December 2010, there were at least 28 vessels with a total of 638 hostages on board that were still being held captive by these pirates.

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January 21, 2011

Tugboat Owner Sentenced to Prison

District Judge Ivan Lemelle sentenced Randall Dantin, 46, of Marrero to 21 months in prison for the Mississippi oil spill that ocurred in 2008. Marrero was the co-owner of a company whose towboat was involved in a major oil spill that closed part of the Mississippi River for nearly a week.

The company pleaded guilty to operating vessels with unqualified and overworked captains and to negligently discharging oil. Dantin also pleaded guilty last year to obstruction of justice for causing electronic payroll sheets to be deleted before the Coast Guard could review them.

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January 19, 2011

Seaman Injured In Fall

NANTUCKETT, MA. - A seaman employed by Toscana Corporation barge was injured Tuesday, December 18, after being pinned between a barge and Steamboat Wharf and then falling into the freezing water. The incident occurred as workers on the Toscana Corporation barge were attempting to untie the vessel after unloading material at the wharf in rough weather, Detective Lt. Jerry Adams said. Other Toscana employees were able to get the man out of the water as police and EMTs rushed to the scene.

The victim was placed on a stretcher after his coworkers pulled him from the water. He was taken to Nantucket Cottage Hospital.

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January 18, 2011

Crewmembers Missing

Two crewmembers continue to remain missing after a barge sank in the busy Rhine River this week. A part of the river, one of the busiest waterways in Europe, was closed to shipping traffic soon after the accident.

The barge contained more than 2,400 tons of sulfuric acid when it went down. Two of the four crew members including a German and a Czech, remain missing. The sinking occurred close to the town of Sankt Goarshausen, about 90 miles south of Koblenz. The barge had been transporting the acid from the headquarters of the chemical plant BASF to another facility in Antwerp Belgium.

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January 16, 2011

Ankle Injury Suit

A seaman from Hidalgo County has filed a lawsuit against his employer after sustaining severe injuries while working on board a vessel. The injuries were sustained when Ismael Reyna was working on the Patty G.

According to his lawsuit, the movement of the vessel along the water caused Reyna to injure himself. He was handling lines at the time of the injury. He suffered general body and back injuries. He also suffered a serious ankle injury that later required surgery. According to the lawsuit, he suffered mental anguish, impairment and disfigurement. His lawsuit claims unspecified monetary damages, and seeks a jury trial.

January 16, 2011

Fishing Vessel-Bulk Carrier Accident

The crew members of a fishing vessel southeast of Hull, Massachusetts, escaped serious injuries after their vessel was involved in a collision with a bulk carrier. The 600- foot bulk carrier collided with the 51- foot fishing boat, about 20 miles southeast of Hull last week.

The bulk carrier, West Bay suffered no damage to the hull, but the fishing vessel, the Michael Brandon suffered extensive damage to its bow. The fishing vessel quickly began taking on water. Crewmembers of the West Bay were able to transmit a distress signal to the Coast Guard.

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January 14, 2011

Diver Dies In Accident

A diver who was a crewman on the 68-foot sea cucumber boat ISLAND DANCER has died in an accident in Alaska's Chester Bay near Metlakatla.

Crew from the vessel reported that the diver surfaced from a dive, removed his mask and immediately sank beneath the water. The crew of the vessel pulled the man up utilizing his air hose and attempted CPR; however those efforts failed to revive the accident victim.

The accident is under investigation by the United States Coast Guard and Metlakatla police.

January 13, 2011

Fishing Boat Sinks

SCITUATE, MA - A fishing boat sank in Scituate harbor after it collided with a 600-foot cargo ship on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. Scituate is located in Plymouth County, Massachusetts in the southeastern part of the state, about in the 31 miles southeast of Boston. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the crash occurred about 20 miles off the coast of Hull, MA.

The 51-foot commercial fishing vessel, the Michael Brandon, was towed back to Scituate harbor by the Coast Guard after it slammed into the freighter, the West Bay.

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January 12, 2011

1.1 Million Dollars For Fisherman

A Washington State Judge has entered a 1.12 million dollar verdict in favor of an injured Bristol Bay fisherman. The 50-year old fisherman, Ronald Lanphere, injured his knee in 2008 when his rain gear became entangled in a rotating shaft of the vessel's engine room. Lanphere had two knee surgeries as a result of the accident and may require a knee replacement in the future.

Included in the verdict was a $100,000 punitive damage award against the owner of the vessel. Adam Evich and his insurance company had made partial payment of the unearned wages but had not paid the seaman the full amount to which he was entitled. The Court found that Evich had willfully refused to pay Lanphere $3,180 in unearned wages that he was owed. Last year, a King County jury awarded an injured seaman 1.1 million dollars in punitive damages for willful refusal to pay maintenance and cure benefits.

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January 12, 2011

BP, Transocean, Halliburton Face Criminal Charges

BP, Transocean and Haliburton are likely to face criminal charges after months of investigation by the Obama administration commission and other panels where they concluded that these companies were likely negligent in the Gulf oil spill disaster that took place April 20, 2010 on the Deepwater Horizon.

David Uhlmann, former chief of environmental crimes at the Justice Department said "The evidence of negligence is too compelling and the harm is too great. The Justice Department is likely to believe that BP, Transocean and Halliburton were negligent and should be criminally charged. There's no question about that."

Uhlmann, now a law professor at the University of Michigan, cited excerpts released Wednesday from the presidential oil spill commission's report, saying it alone shows the standard for criminal charges has been met.

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January 11, 2011

Fire at Ladysmith Docks

A fire struck the Ladysmith Maritime Docks early morning on January 6, 2011 which resulted in major property damage and a loss of life.

According to news sources, a 49-year-old Revelstoke man collapsed while running from the fire. The cause of death is unknown, but officials say firefighters and BC ambulance round the man lying in medical distress when they arrived at the burning wharf. At this point, sources assume it was a heart attack.

In addition, three boats sank, five houseboats were destroyed and other boats were damaged.

There is no speculation on the cause of the fire. According to the Cowichan Valley Citizen, pin-pointing the source will be a challenge due to heavy rains that occurred all night, washing away any potential evidence.

There is no news on the state of the docks and marina.

If you have any information on this incident, please contact Ladysmtih RCMP at 250-245-2215

January 6, 2011

Engineer Suffers Serious Leg Injury

An engineer aboard the tug Barbara McAllister reportedly suffered a leg injury and was stuck in the engine room while en route to Albany, N.Y., in the Hudson River.

Coast Guard Sector New York's Search command center dispatched the cutter Wire to Kingston, where the crew took on members of the Kingston Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services to assist in the rescue.

After successfully getting the engineer aboard the Coast Guard cutter, the injured man was brought to Kingston Point, where he was transferred to local EMS for additional treatment. The cutter Wire is homeported in Saugerties, N.Y.

January 5, 2011

Grounded vessel refloated

A fishing vessel that ran aground near Neah Bay yesterday is afloat again, thanks to an overnight high tide and assistance from federal, state and tribal agencies.

The Washington Department of Ecology, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Makah Tribe responded to the grounded vessel the evening of Jan. 3, 2011. The 88-foot Kristena Rose was pulled from the beach near Shipwreck Point around 2 a.m. Jan 4, and a second fishing vessel helped tow the commercial boat near high tide.

The Kristena Rose is now at dock in Neah Bay. There is a floating boom around the vessel as a precautionary step until it has been inspected by the Coast Guard and allowed to sail. There is no spill or discharge at this time, according to Ecology.

January 5, 2011

Company Denies Blame for Fatal Accident

In June this year, two fishermen were killed in a deadly maritime accident after their fishing boat was involved in a collision with a tug boat pushing a massive formation of barges. The company that owned the tugboat in that collision has now denied all responsibility for the collision. Further, the company, Serodino Inc. insists that the fishermen themselves were to blame for their deaths.

On June 19, the fishermen were in their fishing vessel when they spotted a tugboat pushing a massive barge formation. The barge formation was a total of 647 feet long. According to the fishermen, they spotted the barge when it was about 300 feet away and were not able to avoid a collision because the engine on the fishing boat stalled. The collision killed two of the fishermen, and one survived.

An investigation by the US Coast Guard has focused on whether the boat had a lookout. The Coast Guard team is also investigating whether the fishing vessel had a lookout. Drug and alcohol tests have been conducted on the two victims, the surviving fishermen as well as the nine crew members were on the barge. The tugboat company Serodino insists that it was not at fault in this accident. It blames the two fishermen for their own deaths.

January 3, 2011

Cruise ship worker drowns

Police are investigating the drowning of a cruise ship worker at Port Everglades.
Police and fire rescue officials responded to a call about 6:50 p.m. Sunday. The man, whose identity has not been released, apparently drowned. It was not clear whether he fell off the ship.

Port Everglades spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy says the man worked aboard the Costa Altantica cruise ship docked at the port.

January 2, 2011

FBI ends investigation

The FBI has ended its investigation into the disappearance of a woman who fell from a cruise ship two years ago, citing insufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed.

An FBI spokesmans said Tuesday the agency had been looking into what happened on Christmas night 2008 when 36-year-old Jennifer Ellis-Seitz of Winter Haven allegedly fell from a balcony of the Miami-based Norwegian Pearl.

Ellis-Seitz and her husband, Raymond Seitz, took the cruise to celebrate their first anniversary. Four days after Ellis-Seitz disappeared, her family issued a statement saying she had emotional troubles and likely chose to end her life.

Despite a search by the U.S. Coast Guard, the woman's body was never recovered.

January 1, 2011

Coast Guard rescues kayaker

The Coast Guard rescued a woman after her kayak capsized near Anacortes, Wash., Saturday.

At approximately 4:55 p.m., Coast Guard Station Bellingham, Wash., received a call stating a red kayak had capsized just off the north end of Guemes Island, Wash.

A 33-foot response boat crew from Station Bellingham arrived on scene at approximately 5:13 p.m. and recovered the woman from the water approximately 500-yards from shore.

The 33-foot response boat crew transported the woman to a local marina where she was evaluated by Island Hospital, Anacortes emergency medical services and found to show signs of hypothermia.

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to demonstrate appropriate seasonal knowledge and to always wear a life jacket.