Tag Archives: Spill

Sea Urchin Haven Disturbed by Oil Spill


Stephanie Mutz makes a living plucking sea urchins from the Santa Barbara coast and selling the prickly treasure to upscale restaurants in Southern California.

Now, she needs new hunting grounds.

The coast, thought to be one of the world’s best places for harvesting sea urchins, suffered its worst oil spill in 46 years this week, forcing authorities to ban fishing in an area 23 miles (37 km) long by seven miles (11 km) wide.

“That was one of my predominant fishing spots, so I just have to think of a Plan B,” said Mutz, who supplies restaurants from Santa Barbara to Orange County, including the Michelin-starred Providence in Los Angeles.

It is unclear the extent of damage to the seafood industry from the leak of up to 2,500 barrels of crude oil from a ruptured pipeline into the Pacific Ocean.

But Tuesday’s spill raised concerns about the vulnerability of the marine life, a prized source for chefs keen to serve local catch.

“You don’t want to see anything happen to any part of the California coastline,” said Michael Cimarusti, chef-owner of Providence, considered one of the country’s best seafood restaurants. “It’s an important watershed up there.”

At sister restaurant Connie and Ted’s, which features Santa Barbara seafood, chef Sam Baxter said the fishing season, which began in May, could slacken during oil clean-up.

“It’s hard to know how long it is going to be out there,” he said.

In addition to sea urchins, often called by their Japanese name “uni”, Santa Barbara supplies lobsters and crabs. The famous Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, however, are often found along other parts of the coast.

Five crab boats could not access traps laid in the area and lost some 500 lbs (225 kg) of crab each, said Brian Colgate, owner of Santa Barbara Fish Market.

On Thursday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife expanded the fishing ban from one mile offshore to seven. If choppy waves and gusty winds carry the oil out, the no-go zone could expand.

David Lentz, chef-owner at the seafood-centric Hungry Cat in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, worries about “super detrimental” effects for fishermen.

“I don’t think it’s 100 percent clear how bad it is,” Lentz said. “It’s really early.”

Mutz wasn’t taking any chances. She sent a message to chefs assuring them she would harvest far from the oil and headed to the Channel Islands, 30 miles (48 km) away, to get her urchins. 

(By Daina Beth Solomon Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills)


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Gulf of Finland Collision Related Spill Risk to Quadruple in the Future

 A single oil spill can release 30,000 tonnes of oil into the ocean if two vessels collide. In grounding the high weight can lead to oil disaster, in the Baltic Sea up to 120,000 tonnes. This estimate does not include the new giant tankers, says a press release from Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki).

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BP, Anadarko Fail to Win Review of Gulf Spill Fines


BP Plc and Anadarko Petroleum Corp narrowly failed to persuade a U.S appeals court to reconsider its 2014 ruling that they could face civil fines under federal pollution laws over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

By a 7-6 vote, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand a three-judge panel’s decision to uphold a 2012 ruling from U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, in which he said the companies could face Clean Water Act penalties.

Barbier is scheduled on Jan. 20 to begin a non-jury trial to determine pollution fines. BP is appealing his Sept. 4 ruling that it was grossly negligent in causing the spill, exposing the London-based company to roughly $18 billion of potential fines.

BP and Anadarko had owned a respective 65 percent and 25 percent of the Macondo well, which blew out following the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

They said they should not face fines because the discharge that culminated in the largest U.S. offshore oil spill was the result of a broken riser under the control of Transocean Ltd , which owned the rig.

The three-judge panel ruled against BP and Anadarko last June 4, and issued a separate ruling five months later that the companies said caused confusion, further justifying a rehearing.

An outside spokeswoman for BP declined to comment. Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen also declined to comment.

Writing for the dissenting judges, Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement said on Friday the panel misinterpreted the Clean Water Act, and misapplied its own standard in assessing what happened.

She said denial of a rehearing “ensures that our precedent concerning liability for oil spills under the Clean Water Act remains unclear.”

The case is In re: Deepwater Horizon, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-30883. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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India on Alert After Oil Spill in Sundarbans

Authorities on India’s eastern coast are on alert after a tanker and another vessel collided, spilling more than 350,000 litres of furnace oil into the waters of the Sundarban tidal mangrove forests in neighbouring Bangladesh.

“We are taking all precautionary measures,” Pradeep Vyas, additional director of India’s Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, told Reuters on Friday.

The Indian Coast Guard and Border Security Force are both monitoring the situation, and boats are patrolling the rivers that connect the Sundarban region, which straddles the border between India and Bangladesh, he said.

On Tuesday, an oil tanker carrying 358,000 litres of furnace oil and another vehicle crashed together. That caused the tanker to sink in the Shela river, in the Sundarbans, and spill its cargo into a complex network of rivers and canals, according to Mohammad Yunus Ali, chief conservator of forests in the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Both Sundarbans include large swaths of protected areas that host a diverse wildlife, including threatened species such as the Bengal tiger, rare dolphins and the estuarine crocodile.

Yunus denied that the oil slick was moving towards India and said clean-up efforts were continuing. “We have been trying seriously to clean it within the quickest possible time,” he said. It was unclear when the process would be completed, he added.

Seven members of the sunken tanker’s crew managed to swim ashore, but the boat’s captain, Mokhlesur Rahman, was still missing as of Friday evening.

The Bangladesh government has filed a lawsuit against the owners of both ships.

The chief wildlife warden in the state of West Bengal told Reuters the spill had not yet had any impact on the tiger reserve territory or marine life on the Indian side of the border.

“It may happen, and if it happens we have to deal with it,” said Ujjwal Kumar Bhattacharya, the chief warden.

Reporting by Serajul Quadir in Dhaka, Sujoy Dhar in Kolkata; Writing by Krista Mahr

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Oil Spill at Quintero Bay, Chile

An oil spill occurred at Quintero Bay, Nr Valparaiso, Chile, following an incident on Thursday, September 24 at the Monobuoy Terminal when the MT Mimosa cut off hoses and cargo connection, resulting in a spill of around three cubic meters at sea, Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) Chile reported.

Following the incident, terminal owners ENAP, in coordination with the National Maritime Authority of Chile, deployed a team of expert environmental personnel to mitigate the impact on the environment, by employing absorbent sleeves and installing barriers with an 800 meters extension. Concurrently, an investigation was established with the involved stakeholders to determine the causes of this incident.

Today, the oil spill teams continue with the environmental cleanup and where affected, vessels will continue to be cleansed before departure.

Port operations have not been stopped but currently the ENAP terminals Monobuoy, Multibuoy and LPG are not working.


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Timeline: BP Oil Spill Litigation

BP Plc was found “grossly negligent” on Thursday by a federal judge in connection with its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The decision by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, who oversees litigation related to the disaster, is likely to boost the British oil company’s costs emerging from the biggest offshore spill in U.S. history.

  • April 20, 2010 Rig Explodes: An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig at the Macondo exploration well kills 11 workers and releases millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The well is capped in mid-July. BP ultimately sets aside $42 billion to pay for cleanup costs, damages and penalties.
  • November 2012 Criminal Case Settled: BP agrees to pay $4.5 billion in fines and other penalties and pleads guilty to 14 criminal charges. The U.S. government bans BP from new federal contracts, imperiling the company’s role as a top U.S. offshore oil producer and No. 1 military fuel supplier. Separately, the U.S. Department of Justice files criminal charges against three BP employees in connection with the accident.
  • December 2012 Class Action Settled: Barbier gives final approval to BP’s settlement with individuals and businesses claiming to have lost money and property because of the spill. BP initially estimates it will pay $7.8 billion to settle more than 100,000 claims, but the dollar amount is not capped. The company later says the payout may grow substantially, in part because of payouts to many claimants who suffered no harm, and files numerous legal challenges to the agreement.
  • February 2013 Civil Trial Begins: Officials from the federal government and several U.S. states begin facing BP in court at a three-phase civil trial over how blame should be apportioned between BP, Transocean Ltd, which owned the drilling rig, and Halliburton Co, which did cement work. Government lawyers urge Barbier to find BP grossly negligent, which could roughly quadruple the amount of fines under the U.S. Clean Water Act.
  • Sept. 30, 2013 Second Phase of Trial Begins: The second phase begins to determine how much oil was spilled.
  • Sept. 4, 2014 Judge Finds BP Bears Most of the Blame: Barbier finds BP “grossly negligent” for its role in the oil spill. He assigns 67 percent of the fault to BP, 30 percent to Transocean and 3 percent to Halliburton. BP pledges to appeal.
  • January 2015 Next Phase of Trial Scheduled to Begin: Barbier is scheduled to determine how much oil was spilled. The amount would be used to calculate damages.

(Compiled by David Gregorio; Editing by Howard Goller)

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Maritime NZ Oil Spill Response Review: Submissions

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says it invites submissions on its draft updated New Zealand Marine Oil Spill Response Strategy 2014 (the draft Strategy).

The draft Strategy, (available at http://bit.ly/1pe6p46) is based on the current version but substantially updated to include lessons learned nationally and internationally in recent years and follows discussion with regional councils, the community and iwi, and industry at a series of public held earlier this year.

The safety agency points out that it is important to note that the strategy does not cover the permitting and approval process for oil and gas exploitation. Neither does it cover emergency response to other hazardous and noxious substances. These issues are “out-of-scope” of this strategy.


Under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, MNZ is required to regularly update the Strategy, last revised in 2006.

The draft Strategy not only provides information about how Maritime NZ responds to marine oil spills, but also, for the first time, sets the vision, principles, goals, and objectives for the next five years for New Zealand’s marine oil spill readiness and response.

When finalised the Strategy will provide a framework within which New Zealand’s approach to managing marine oil spills can continue to develop.

The draft Strategy identifies four key goals:

  • New Zealand is able to respond to a significant marine oil spill
  • New Zealand’s readiness and response is evidence-based, intelligence-led and meets international best practice
  • Maritime NZ builds and maintains relationships that will improve readiness and response to marine oil spills and help meet international obligations
  • Industry and regional readiness and response capability is matched to the scale of their responsibility and risk

The goals and objectives will shape the future capability requirements for New Zealand and Maritime NZ and the resources needed to give effect to this capability.

Make a submission

    •    e-mail to osrs@maritimenz.govt.nz

    •    ordinary post to Oil Spill Response Strategy Review, Maritime New Zealand, PO Box 25620, Wellington 6146

    •    fax to (04) 494 8901

    •    delivery to Maritime New Zealand, level 11, 1 Grey Street, Wellington

The deadline for making a submission is 5.00pm on Monday 25 August 2014.


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