Coast Guard reveals cargo ship that may have caused crude spill

REVEALED: 165,000 ton cargo ship ‘whose anchor snagged California oil pipeline nine months before it leaked’, as investigators probe whether that impact caused 25,000 gallon crude spillage

  • The Coast Guard have released the name of the 165,000 ton cargo ship that dragged a California pipeline with its anchor nine months before the Oct 2 spill
  • The ensuing leak had released 25,000 gallons of crude on the Southern California coastline
  •  The MSC Danit belonging to the Mediterranean Shipping Company and its owner Dordellas Finance Corporation have been named ‘parties of interest’
  • Federal investigators mounted the ship after it arrived this past weekend near the scene of the spill
  • Coast Guard Lieutenant SondraKay Kneen said that the anchor from the ship may have dragged the pipeline about 100 feet after striking it
  • The circumstances surrounding the spill still remain under investigation 

Investigators probing an oil pipeline leakage in California have shared the name of a container ship whose anchor may have snagged the pipe nine months earlier, as they probe whether that impact may have triggered the ensuing leak.   

Federal investigators from the National Coast Guard and National Transportation Board had mounted the Panama-registered MSC DANIT hours after the ship arrived this weekend off the Port of Long Beach, the same area where the leak happened.

The suspected DANIT impact is feared to have shattered a concrete protective layer around the pipeline, sparking fears that may have caused the oil line to rupture months later.  

The early October spill was estimated to have leaked 25,000 gallons of crude along the Southern California coastline that killed birds, fish and mammals.   

The Mediterranean Shipping Company, or MSC, along with the vessel’s owner Dordellas Finance Corporation have been named ‘parties of interest’ for their part in the leak investigation.

The MSC Danit, belonging to the Mediterranean Shipping Company, and its owner Dordellas Finance Corporation has been named ‘parties of interest’ in the early October oil spill investigation

The 165,000 ton cargo ship was said to have hit an underwater pipeline off of the Southern California coast about nine months before the leak

The 25,000 gallon crude leak had killed animals living off the southern California coast including birds, fish and mammals

An aerial view shows the closed off oiled up shore of Newport Beach on October 6 

The DANIT’s operator, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, is headquartered in Switzerland and has a fleet of 600 vessels and more than 100,000 workers, according to the company. 

During a prior visit by the ship during a heavy storm in January, investigators believe its anchor dragged for an unknown distance before striking the 16-inch steel pipe, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. SondraKay Kneen told the Associated Press on Sunday.

The impact would have knocked an inch-thick concrete casing off the pipe and pulled it more than 100 feet, bending but not breaking the line, Kneen said.

Still undetermined is whether the impact caused the October leak, or if the line was hit by something else at a later date or failed due to a preexisting problem, Kneen said.

‘We’re still looking at multiple vessels and scenarios,’ she said.  

The DANIT arrived in Long Beach this weekend after voyaging from China, according to marine traffic monitoring websites.

Workers are seen cleaning the contaminated Huntington Beach on October 11

Workers in protective suits clean the contaminated Newport Beach on October 6

The investigation into what caused the spill could lead to criminal charges or civil penalties, but none have been announced yet, and Kneen said the probe could continue for months.

Attorneys for MSC and Dordellas will have the chance to examine and cross-examine the government´s witnesses in the case and also to call their own witnesses, according to the Coast Guard. The investigation also includes the National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies.

Kneen declined to say if any damage was found to an anchor on the DANIT after a team of at least five investigators spent much of Saturday aboard the ship.

At least two other vessels were previously boarded by investigators, who are examining logs kept by the ships’ captains, officers and engineers and voyage data recorders – equivalent to the so-called black box on airplanes.

A view of the spilled oil formed in the Pacific Ocean following the spill on October 2 

The pipe (circled in red) was dragged 105 feet away and is bowed after a suspected anchor dragged it across the ocean floor 

In response to the new focus on the DANIT, the Houston-based owner of the damaged pipeline, Amplify Energy, thanked the Coast Guard for its continued work on the case.

The accident just a few miles off Huntington Beach in Orange County fouled beaches and wetlands and led to temporary closures for cleanup work.

While not as bad as initially feared, it has reignited the debate over offshore drilling in federal waters in the Pacific, where hundreds of miles of pipelines were installed decades ago.

California pipeline oil spill timeline: 

Friday 1 October, night: Newport Beach residents smell petroleum

Saturday 2 October, 2am: National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration’s satellite images show a strong likelihood of oil sheen on the water

2.30am: Amplify Energy Corporation gets a notification indicating pressure drop and possible spill

6.01am: Amplify shuts down pipeline

8.09am: Amplify reportedly saw oil sheen on the water 

9.07am: Amplify notified the US Coast Guard of the oil leak 

9.10am: US Coast Guard and Huntington Beach Police Department dispatched aircrafts 

Source: ABC News 

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