PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Citgo Petroleum Corp. is not liable for a 2004 oil spill in which 200,000 barrels of heavy crude were released into the Delaware River, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
The spill had “devastating ecological results,” but cannot be pinned on Citgo, Senior U.S. District Judge John Fullam found in an 18-page decision.
The tanker Athos I had departed from Venezuela and was less than 1,000 feet from its destination, a New Jersey refinery, when it struck a submerged, 9-ton anchor, which ripped two holes into the ship’s hull.
While Citgo and its subsidiaries “have the duty to furnish a safe berth,” they “had no duty to scan for hazards” in the surrounding area, the court ruled.
“After hearing all of the evidence, I am of the opinion that the fault for the casualty lies with the anchor’s former owner, who abandoned it in the river without notifying anyone,” Fullam wrote, noting that the anchor had been stripped of identifying marks, and its owner could not be located.
Some believe it was used in dredging operations, according to the decision.