Businesses file class action lawsuit over oil spill in Galveston Bay

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Crews scoop up heavy fuel oil that washed up on East Beach in Galveston, Texas on Monday March 24, 2014 as they begin cleaning up after a weekend oil spill in Galveston Bay. More than 160,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil spilled into the bay after a barge collided with a ship near the Texas City Dike. Photo: Jennifer Reynolds, Associated Press

Charter fishing businesses and individuals who have suffered property losses and other costs as a result of the March 22 collision near the Texas City Dike have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against Kirby Inland Marine and Cleopatra Shipping Agency.

The suit was filed March 24 in U.S. District Court in Galveston over the collision of a barge pushed by a tow boat named Miss Susan and a 585-foot bulk carrier, Summer Wind. Kirby Inland Marine owns the vessel Miss Susan, while Cleopatra Shipping Agency owns Summer Wind.

The collision caused the release of oil into Galveston Bay. The barge sank to the bottom of the channel and lies partially submerged, the lawsuit states.

At the time of the filing, it was unknown how much of the 924,000 gallons of oil on the barge were released into Galveston Bay, but the spill has had a "wide and devastating effect on Galveston Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the people who use and depend on it," according to the class action complaint.

The marine fuel oil that was released is a heavy crude that does not evaporate quickly, making it particularly harmful to the environment and difficult to clean up, the complaint states.

The plaintiffs include 3G Fishing Chaters, 3G Bait and Tackle Shop, Launch Waterfront Eatery, Galveston Fishing Charter Co., Matt Garner doing business as All American Fishing Charters, Sammy Flores, Adam Kleczkowski, Greg Verm doing business as Fishing Galveston Texas, Caroline Cope and Scott Moss doing…

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