November 2011 Archives

November 22, 2011

BP Must Face State Oil Spill Claims

U.S. District Judge Barbier has ruled that BP must face claims under general maritime law, not under state law, in suits brought by Louisiana and Alabama due to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill brought on by the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20, 2010.

Barbier said that States can sue for negligence and product liability and are eligible for punitive damages, but dismissed claims brought under state environmental laws, including demands for civil penalties, finding they were preempted by federal law governing the Outer Continental Shelf.

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November 17, 2011

Parasailing Cancelled after Death

Celebrity Cruises has canceled all parasailing trips in the Caribbean following an accident in St. Thomas that left one passenger dead and another critically injured. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity's sister line, has followed suit.

A 60-year-old passenger sailing on Celebrity Eclipse, identified as Bernice Kraftcheck, 60, died as a result of her fall. Her daughter, Danielle Haese, 34, who was riding in tandem, is being treated at Hospital in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. Celebrity Cruises spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez confirmed that the mother and daughter were participating in a ship-sponsored shore excursion.

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November 17, 2011

Judge Rules BP Not Insured for Gulf Oil Spill

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled Tuesday, Nov 15, that BP can not use Transocean's insurance to pay costs related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of April 2010 - stating that the carriers owe no duty to pay claims or defense costs to BP.

BP filed claims with Transocean's carriers last year that sought access to $750 million. Lloyd's of London, along with other excess underwriters, and Ranger Insurance, Transocean's primary insurer, opposed the claims, contending the rig owner's contract with BP didn't provide such coverage.

"The court finds that BP, under the drilling contract, assumed responsibility for Macondo well oil release pollution liabilities. Because Transocean did not assume these liabilities, there is no additional insurance obligation in favor of BP for these liabilities."

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November 16, 2011

Shrimper Dead after Fall from Boat

A shrimper died in a fall from a boat in the Gulf of Mexico this week. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the fifty-eight-year-old man was working as a deckhand on the twenty-six -foot long commercial fishing vessel when he fell into the water.

The seas were rough at the time of the accident. The owner of the boat was unable to rescue the unresponsive deckhand. There were only two people on the boat at the time of the incident. The owner of the vessel managed to retrieve the victim's body from the water, and took the boat to shore, where paramedics intervened.

November 10, 2011

Twenty Rescued from Storm

The 143-foot Alaska Fishing vessel, REBECCA IRENE, lost engine power in the face of an impending severe storm. Twenty crewmen were evacuated from the vessel, 14 essential personnel remained on board. The vessel was taken under the escort of the Coast Guard Cutter SHERMAN. Hurricane force winds were approaching the Alaska coastline at the time of the rescue. Seas as high as forty feet were anticipated.

November 8, 2011

Crewman Rescued

A United States Coast Guard Helicopter airlifted a 28-year old deckhand from the 150-foot crab fishing vessel WIZARD 60 miles north of Cold Bay. The crewman reportedly collapsed and was showing signs of dehydration and shock. The cause of the crewman's illness was not described in initial reports.

November 5, 2011

BP $50 Million Pollution Violations

BP will to pay the State of Texas $50 million for air pollution violations at the site of an explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people. The settlement does not resolve lawsuits or investigations by other agencies, or any future problems at the refinery says Matthew Tejada, executive director of the Houston Air Alliance.

Tejada said it took Texas too long - more than six years - to resolve the violations, which he called an "indictment of the entire environmental enforcement system in the state. "The state of Texas wasn't the one that suffered from all this pollution. It was the people of Texas City," he said.

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November 4, 2011

Captain Arrested for Intoxication

The skipper of a boat that ran aground at the Anchorage small boat harbor has been arrested for boating under the influence. The man was piloting the 53-foot vessel when it struck a pile in the harbor, and continued into the loading ramp. The Coast Guard responded, sending pollution responders and investigators to the scene.

The vessel was carrying up to 200 gallons of diesel fuel. So far, no spill has been reported, the vessel suffered minor damage.  When the Coast Guard officers suspected that the pilot was intoxicated, they called police officers to the scene. Police conducted standard sobriety tests, which the man failed. Officers then conducted an alcohol breathalyzer test, and found that he registered more than one and-a-half times the legal alcohol limit. The captain has been arrested.

In 2010, alcohol was blamed as a factor in 19% of all boating accident fatalities.

November 3, 2011

Agencies Respond to Fire

The Coast Guard, Bainbridge Island, Wash., Fire Department, the state department of Ecology and American Gold Seafoods are responding to a fire and potential fuel spill on one of American Gold Seafood's floating fish-rearing pens in Rich Passage, off Beans Point in Kitsap County, Wash., Thursday.

Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received a report of the fire from a Washington State Ferry crew at approximately 1:30 a.m. The Bainbridge Island Fire Dept. extinguished the fire, which occured in a small shed on the floating pen.  The fire involved an air compressor system. This system has been disconnected from its diesel fuel source, and the diesel fuel source has been secured.

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November 2, 2011

Pilot Sentenced to Prison

Former tugboat pilot Matthew Devlin of Catskill, N.Y, was sentenced Tuesday, Nov 1, to a year and a day in prison for the fatal river crash in Philadelphia last year that killed two Hungarian students 16-year-old Dora Schwendtner and 20-year-old Szabolcs Prem.

The fatal collision occurred on July 7, 2010 when Devlin, who was distracted by cellphone calls due to a family emergency, pushed a huge barge through a busy shipping channel on the Delaware River running over a stalled duck boat, sinking the tour boat and throwing 37 people into the river.

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November 1, 2011

1400 Offshore Oil Leases Extended

The federal administration has approved more than 97% of the offshore oil and gas drilling lease-extension requests that it has received.

According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, it has approved 1381 out of the 1413 applications for lease extension. The extensions have been granted to compensate for the delays that these drilling companies have suffered after the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

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