City of LA Sues Ro/Ro Operator Over Bunker Spill

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The Istra Ace with containment boom deployed, Cerritos Channel, March 2016 (State of California)

By MarEx 2018-04-24 19:53:00

The city of Los Angeles is suing the owner, operator and charterer of the car carrier Istra Ace over a 2016 bunker spill that covered 70 acres of water and took two weeks to remediate. 

In a civil suit filed in county court on April 20, the city alleges that shipowner Istra Maritime, operator Stamco Ship Management and charterer Mitsui OSK are liable for the spill under state fish and game laws. A Coast Guard investigation concluded that the spill was caused by faulty piping on board the Ace, and the agency estimated size of the release at about 265 barrels. 

The spill occurred during bunkering at Berth 198 in the Port of Los Angeles' Cerritos Channel. It covered about 70 acres of water surface, according to the suit, and affected multiple waterfront installations. A safety zone around the spill area was closed to marine traffic for days while cleanup work proceeded, and a nearby drawbridge's operations were suspended, blocking larger vessels.

Courtesy State of California

Istra and Stamco face several separate civil suits by private citizens, including a claim by a yacht owner who alleges that his vessel was damaged as a result of the spill. 

The 2007-built Istra Ace is a 4,900 CEU car carrier operated by Ray Car Carriers, an Isle of Man corporation with an exclusive ship management arrangement with Piraeus-based Stamco Ship Management. She is owned by a holding company with the same address in the Isle of Man.