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Ships Accused of Causing California Oil Spill to Pay $45M

A tentative settlement has been reached in which two containerships that were accused of causing damage by dragging their anchors across a southern California oil pipeline will pay $45 million which will be used to compensate fishermen, residents, and local businesses. It is the latest in a series of settlements stemming from an October 2021 oil spill that released 25,000 gallons of crude oil into the waters off Orange Country and near the San Pedro port complex.

The spill occurred on October 1, 2021, but later investigations showed that a pipeline had been displaced by more than 100 feet and that there were cracks in the outer casing. Investigators believed that containerships in the anchorage waiting for berth space had dragged their anchors across the pipeline causing the damage during a winter storm in January 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard said the damage to the pipeline could have made it more susceptible to environmental stresses and failure such as the 13-inch split that occurred approximately 10 months later.

During the storm, they determined that the winds reached 60 mph and 17-foot seas. While many vessels chose to head to sea to ride out the storm others remained in the anchorage and after the investigation, two vessels were identified as the ones that had likely impacted the pipeline. They were the MSC Danit (165,000 dwt) and the Beijing (107,500 dwt), a Costamare ship operating under charter to COSCO.


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