Lawsuit from 2002 oil spill rumbles on
A case that stemmed from a September 2002 oil spill in Charleston Harbor rumbles on.
Two years after the incident, shipping giant Evergreen sued Norfolk Dredging Co. , alleging the Virginia-based subcontractor was to blame for leaving dredging pipes in the Cooper River without "notice or warning."
The suit came after, according to Coast Guard accounts, Evergreen's ship the Ever Reach struck a submerged steel dredge pipe, causing about 12,500 gallons of oil to leak from the vessel.
Following the incident, Evergreen sought nearly $9 million compensation for damage to the ship, loss of business and the cleanup efforts the company was required to pay for.
This summer, a district court judge in Charleston ruled that Norfolk Dredging was only 10 percent to blame for the accident, and therefore was liable for 10 percent of Evergreen's costs. However, the court also ruled that Evergreen was 90 percent to blame for costs incurred by Norfolk as a result of the accident. The net result: The dredging company was ordered to pay Evergreen $766,208.
The shipping line has appealed the ruling and Norfolk has filed a cross appeal. The case is pending in the S.C. Court of Appeals.
In a separate case brought against Evergreen and Norfolk Dredging, a judge recently awarded about 15 local clam farmers about $1.8 million after the farmers claimed their clam beds were almost wiped out by the oil spill.
Priming the pump
Plans are accelerating for a new gas station in a high-traffic area of the peninsula.
Convenience store operator The Pantry Inc. recently bought a site at the corner of Meeting and Huger streets with plans for a new store there. The property is on a busy thoroughfare near on-ramps to the Cooper River bridge and Interstate 26.
Plans filed with the city call for a two-story "Charleston-style" building that will house a convenience store on the first floor and offices on the second. The gas pumps will be behind the building, which will front Meeting Street.
Local developer Mark Jordan, who is working with Pantry on the project, said the company is planning to open a regional office upstairs. "They love this market," Jordan said.
The company is still awaiting final permits before construction can start. If all goes smoothly, work should start in the next few months and the new station should be open by next fall, Jordan said.
Based in Sanford, N.C., Pantry is a fast-growing Fortune 500 company with about 50 locations in the tri-county area. Most of its stores operate under the Kangaroo Express banner.
Currently, there are about five gas stations on the peninsula.
In the cards
After numerous delays, a federally mandated port security identification card finally was rolled out last week in Delaware.
Transportation workers at the Port of Wilmington began enrolling in the much-touted Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC, a program designed to secure air and sea ports and other transportation hubs from terrorists and other threats.
The program was supposed to start in the summer, but technical problems with the cards delayed the debut. Enrollment in Charleston is not expected to begin until at least next month.
Eventually, the nation's estimated 750,000 truckers, stevedores and longshoremen, rail and airport employees, and other transit and port workers will be required to carry the card. Without one, they will be denied access to their jobs.
The high-tech IDs are tamper-resistant smart cards embedded with unique "biometric" information about each worker. They will be good for five years.
By using biometric data, in this case fingerprints, each facility can verify the identity of a worker and help prevent unauthorized people from entering secure areas. Currently, many transportation workers must carry a different ID card for each facility they access.
The program was one of the first security measures proposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which highlighted the vulnerability of the nation's seaports and airports.
President Bush signed the worker-ID program into law in November 2002 as part of the Maritime Transportation Security Act, a far-reaching package of port-related security measures.