A settlement has finally been reached in a seven-year-long case. On Wednesday, December 1, the Attorney General’s Office announced that a $15.3 million settlement to end the Texas Y Oil Spill dispute had been accepted.
Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine LP has agreed to pay the money in damages and assessment costs under the Oil Pollution Act. The agreement resolves any federal and state claims for injuries to natural resources from the oil spill caused by a collision that Kirby was responsible for, said the U.S. Department of Justice.
Texas and the United States both filed a civil complaint along with a proposed consent decree after the events of March 22, 2014. On that day, the M/V Summer Wind, a 585-foot bulk carrier, collided with Kirby’s oil tank barge in Galveston Bay. Most of the discharged oil washed up on the shorelines between Matagorda and Galveston Islands.
The impact in the Houston Ship Channel caused a discharge of an estimated 4,000 barrels (168,000 gallons). The oil flowed from the Houston Ship Channel into Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, causing significant damage to the Texas Coastline and a wildlife refuge on Matagorda Island. Numerous other aquatic and terrestrial habitats suffered as a result of the spill.
It also forced the closure of the Houston Ship Channel and disrupted recreational uses of the Texas coastline, which resulted in lost recreational opportunities at Galveston-area beaches. Kirby, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Texas state government were involved in extensive response and cleanup efforts.
Kirby’s payment of $15.3 million will go towards a joint venture by federal and state trustees. These entities will plan, design, and perform projects to restore the impacts to aquatic or terrestrial life. The trustees have worked together to achieve an injury assessment and are engaged in all efforts.