Suit filed on 2003 Staten Island Spill: What took so long?

On February 21, 2003, Bouchard Transportation Co. dumped more than 50,000 barrels from a barge at the Staten Island ExxonMobil Port Mobil Facility,  resulting in a fire that killed two workers and injured one according to a complaint filed Nov. 6th 2008.  There must be a backstory here.  Anyone know?

Original news story

Nov. 6th Complaint(Thanks Courthousenews)

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5 Responses to “Suit filed on 2003 Staten Island Spill: What took so long?”

  1. nobodyspecial Says:

    The B No 125 barge exploded at ExxonMobil while discharging it’s cargo, the barge exploded killing the barge captain and the barge’s mate, The injured worker was an ExxonMobil employee who was on the dock in a small telephone booth type watchstation overlooking the barge B No 125
    one week after the death of the barge mate his wife had his son.

  2. Randy Wilson Says:

    Thanks for the comment. It helps put a human face on the litigation process that is pretty far detached from that.

  3. nobodyspecial Says:

    Your welcome, Here is even more details of this event!

    The maritime industry makes local headlines when something goes wrong, but the headlines on February 21 went national. In a spectucular eruption of flame and smoke, the like of which New York had not seen since 9/11, an estimated million gallons of gasoline erupted from a barge near the southwestern tip of Staten Island. The barge captain and mate were killed in the 10 A.M. explosion, and a nearby worker at the ExxonMobil facility suffered third-degree burns. The New York Times the next day showed a plume of dense black smoke over the city, but reported that the calamaty had been quickly controlled. Almost certaiinly it was not the work of terrorists and, being a gasoline fire, The Times reassured, it could burn itself out without leaving a slick to endanger the birds.

    “Empire State is involved in a harbor response team,” said the tug’s skipper, Rich Jermak, “made up of vessels with fire-fighting capability. We were in Penn’s yard that morning, and on 13 we heard a broadcast for firefighting tugs.” With its 1290 gallon-per-minute monitor, its 150-pound dry chemical system and its 2000-gal AFFF fire fighting foam tank, the 1967-built, 1750-hp emergency-response tug headed for the Arthur Kill destination about 10 miles away.

    In a city sensitized to emergencies, the response to the fire by the uniformed services was equally swift. All nearby exits of the West Shore Expressway, the main approach to southern Staten Island, were blocked by patrol cars, and streets leading to the site were closed by conspicuous forces of uniformed officers. Initial concerns that the fire might spread to scores of nearby petroleum-product tanks were quickly allayed, and Staten Island bridges, including the nearby Outerbridge Crossing, were reopened to non-emergency vehicles. The fire continued to burn, however, as three New York CIty fireboats contained it with their collection of monitors.

    Launches from the NYPD were quick on the scene, as was at least one from the New York State Police. The Coast Guard cutter Hammerhead reportedly warned-off some of the response tugs, until their authorized presence was verified.

    “By the time we arrived,” said Capt. Jermak, “the Bouchard tug Evening Mist had hauled the 35 out,” Bouchard’s B-35 having been scorched when the ill-fated B-125 exploded.

    “The FDNY went around the barge twice with thermal imaging devices,” Capt. Jermak continued, “and it was hot in the forepeak. They didn’t know what the source of the heat was, and didn’t want to open the barge to find out, because it might flash. So we immediately started hosing the barge down.” With Empire State stationed on the port side of the barge, the starboard side was alternately hosed by the FDNY fireboats Fire Fighter and Governor Alfred E. Smith. Assisting on the starboard side was the Francis Roehrig, of CR towing.

    Firefighters from the refinery manned the Empire State’s monitor, according to Capt. Jermak, while Bayway Fire Chief Larry Bonner joined the captain in the pilot house, “to discuss things with us and establish measures in case something should happen. I can’t say enough about the knowledge and professionalism of the Chief and the two firefighters he brought with him, Jeff Merrill and Gary Romeo.” Capt. Jermak, along with his crew and many others on the response team, trained for firefighting at Texas A&M.

    The 101-foot Empire State, fitted with Kort nozzles and flanking rudders, has operated under six different owners’ names. “First Esso,” said Capt. Jermak, “and Exxon, then Tosco, Philips, Conoco, and now Conoco-Philips. Our crew is on for six months at a stretch – everyone takes great pride in what they do, because this is their home.”

    Besides operating as a fireboat, the Empire State supplies its 2,500-ft. boom, reel-mounted on the stern, whenever Conoco-Philips does lightering on the harbor, according to Capt. Jermak.

  4. Randy Wilson Says:

    Wow! Thanks for all that detail. Were you on the scene at all?

  5. nobodyspecial Says:

    No, I was not on the scene, I was working on another barge for the same company the day this happened, I saw the event on televison and read the newspaper like everyone else, Our company was not saying a word about this tragedy, I quit two weeks later due to the impersonal way that management handled this tragedy and the death of the two employee’s (Barge captain Mr, John Kine 52 and Barge mate Mr, Ford Ebanks 24, )
    by the way the day after these men died, all the tugs and the barges owned by Bouchard lowered our flags at half mast!

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