Investigators believe a 1,200-foot cargo ship dragging anchor in rough seas caught an underwater oil pipeline and pulled it across the seafloor, months before a leak from the line fouled the Southern California coastline with crude. A team of federal investigators attempting to find the source of the spillage boarded MSC DANIT, a Panama-registered vessel. This was just hours after the ship arrived at the Port of Long Beach. It is the same area that the leak was discovered in October.
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 stated 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. Kneen stated that it is still unclear if the October leak was caused by an impact or if the line was damaged due to a prior problem. We’re still considering multiple vessels and scenarios.” she stated.
The Coast Guard on Saturday designated the owner and operator as parties of interest in its investigation into the spill, estimated to have released about 25,000 gallons of crude into the water, killing birds, fish and mammals. The accident, which occurred just a few minutes from Los Angeles’ Huntington Beach, caused beaches and wetlands to be contaminated and forced temporary closures for cleaning up. . Although it is not as severe as initially thought ,, it has rekindled the debate about offshore drilling in federal waters of the Pacific where hundreds upon miles of pipelines were laid decades ago.
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.
MSC representatives did not immediately respond to email messages seeking comment. The company’s Geneva headquarters was closed on Monday, according to a security guard.
The Coast Guard identified the vessel’s owner as Dordellas Finance Corporation. However, they were unable to reach them for comment.
The DANIT arrived in Long Beach this weekend after voyaging from China, according to marine traffic monitoring websites.