State Watch

Ship anchored near oil pipeline made unusual movements before rupture off Southern California

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a massive cargo ship that was anchored near a pipeline before it burst and spilled up to 144,000 gallons of crude oil last week. 

The investigation will seek to determine if the ship’s anchor may have caught Amplify Energy’s pipeline and bent it, according to The Associated Press.

Data obtained by the AP from a marine navigation service called MarineTraffic showed that the Rotterdam Express made a series of unusual movements while anchored in the spot closest to where the pipeline burst.

MarineTraffic spokesman Fotini Tseroni told the AP that the movements could be indicative of an issue with the ship’s GPS system rather than a more accurate reflection of the ship’s positioning.

“At the moment, we believe we are not connected to the oil spill,” Nils Haupt, a spokesman from Hapag-Lloyd, the Rotterdam Express’s shipping company, told the AP.

“We are fully cooperating with the authorities at this moment,” Haupt added to the Los Angeles Times.

The Rotterdam Express was one of the many ships forced to anchor near pipelines that move oil amid gridlock at the port. The Times reported that shipping channels in California’s Los Angeles and Orange counties have been congested for months. 

While the ship anchor is being investigated as a possible cause of the spill, it is just one part of a wider probe into the incident, according to the Times. 

As of Wednesday, more than 5,000 gallons of oil had been removed from the ocean as clean up efforts continue, per the Times. 


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