NEW ORLEANS (CN) – Two federal class actions demand millions of dollars in damages, and punitive damages, for the massive oil spill that has closed the Mississippi River from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico and contaminated nearly 100 miles of the river and its shores.
The Port of New Orleans reports it is losing $100,000 in business a day due to the oil spill.
The oil spill began Wednesday night when a 61-ft. barge carrying 410,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil struck at 600-ft. tanker, which did not leak, near the Crescent City bridge.
Plaintiffs include individuals and businesses.
Named as defendants are Laurin Maritime (America), Whitefin Shipping Co. Limited, DRD Towing Company, American Commercial Lines, and The New Orleans-Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association.
Barge DM932, being towed by the tugboat Mel Oliver, split in half after striking the Liberian-flagged tanker Tintomara, one complaint states.
The New York Times reported today that Coast Guard officials said DRD Towing, which was pushing the barge, was improperly licensed, possessing only the equivalent of an apprentice certificate.
River traffic has been closed for the nearly 100-mile length of the oil spill, stranding 65 boats, the Times reported. The river walk in New Orleans French Quarter was virtually deserted Thursday, under a chemical stench, the Times reported.
More lawsuits can be expected as the enormous cleanup progresses, and damage to wildlife and the environment is assessed.
Plaintiffs’ lead counsel is Hugh Lambert with Lambert & Nelson.
A separate class action was filed by Camilo Salas III.