Hearing about Port Arthur oil spill

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

PORT ARTHUR, TX (KPLC) - The United States Coast Guard is holding a formal hearing on Tuesday morning about an oil spill that happened back in January.

The collision of the Eagle Otome and the Dixie Vengeance in Port Arthur on January 23 caused an oil spill of more than 400,000 gallons.

Witnesses that have spoken so far on Tuesday include Captain Pallava Shukla of New Delhi, India, who was the master of the Eagle Otome - the tanker ship that collided with the first of two barges being pushed by the tug Dixie Vengeance.

January 23 when the tank ship Eagle Otome was inbound and hit one ship moored at the Port of Port Arthur-- and then collided with one of two barges being pushed by the Dixie vVngeance. More than 400,000 gallons of oil spilled and there was damage to both ships, the barge and the pier at the port.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Patrick Kelley says the purpose is to see how to prevent such accidents in the future. "It's because this is important. It's important that we find everything out to prevent something like this from happening in the future and to also ensure that our waterways are as safe as possible."

The  tanker Eagle Otome is owned by AET. Spokesman Darrell Wilson says they are participating in the hearing and support anything to make shipping safer. "It's a fact finding mission. Everyone who was involved in the incident, they're all here to give their testimony about what occurred so when this is all over, hopefully the Coast Guard and the NTSB will be able to piece this together and tell everyone exactly what happened."

The Coast Guard has allocated ten days for the hearing. Witnesses will include personnel from the Eagle Otome, The Dixie Vengeance along with Sabine pilots and those involved in vessel traffic service and training in the area.

Cameras are not allowed in the hearing, which is being held in Port Arthur, but stay tuned to later editions of 7 News and check kplctv.com for more on this story.

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