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Agency recommendations could impact California shipping

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Maritime Law |

Accidents can be problematic for any California business. For maritime businesses, this is even more pronounced. When it is an accident that negatively affects the environment, it is inevitable that greater attention will be paid to it. Regulators and agencies will investigate and provide guidance to prevent it from happening again.

An oil spill in California in 2021 was one such accident and the National Transportation Safety Board has made recommendations that pipeline operators and others who work in the maritime industry should be cognizant of.

NTSB addresses problems that caused oil spill

According to its two-year investigation, the NTSB stated that the oil spill in Southern California happened because containerships were too close to offshore pipelines. Its recommendations include steps being taken by the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure adequate separation. That, however, does not mean companies are absolved of responsibility.

The agency found that communication issues and a lack of planning when the containerships were being monitored contributed to the spill. An anchor hit the pipeline leading to it bursting. After the anchor strike, two other ships’ anchors also struck the pipeline. Location is a concern with avoiding this type of incident from happening again.

Currently, it is not required for pipeline operators to be told when ships were dragging their anchors. When the alarms sounded regarding a leak, the operators did not act quickly enough. The energy company that operates the pipeline sued the companies that owned the containerships and was awarded nearly $100 million. The company played a role in the accident. It faced environmental violations and made substantial payouts because of it.

Maritime businesses must be prepared

With any type of maritime business, there are myriad concerns that must be addressed. Before an accident happens, it is essential to have proper insurance, be in full compliance with regulations and to understand the law. After an accident, it becomes even more vital to be protected in case people are injured, changes need to be made and allegations of wrongdoing are put forth.