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Suits, countersuits filed in Corpus Christi explosion

A private contract dredging vessel hit a propane pipeline in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Aug. 21, killing four people and injuring six others. Cleanup continued on Aug. 24 as the U.S. Coast Guard called off the search for the bodies of two of the four presumed dead. Screen-captured image

Lawsuits totaling $410 million have been filed and an investigation is underway involving a deadly pipeline explosion in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel on Aug. 21. One of the companies named in all the lawsuits answered by filing a Limitation Action document in federal court Oct. 5. The goal is to shield it from paying damages and going to trial.

The 25-page document sets the value of its vessels and pending freight at about $9.4 million and states that it is willing to pay that amount at 6 percent interest per year for the benefit of all claimants.

Four men were killed and eight injured in the blast involving the dredging vessel Waymon L. Boyd, which hit a natural gas pipeline, resulting in the explosion and fire.

An investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board could take more than a year, Coast Guard Capt. Edward Gaynor recently told the Port Corpus Christi board.

“It is way too premature to speculate on a cause at this time,” he said at a September board meeting.

The dredging operation was conducted at the request of Epic Midstream Holdings at the Epic Marine Terminal in Corpus Christi’s Inner Harbor.

One of the injured crew members on the dredging vessel, Jose Cantu, hired Houston law firm Arnold & Itkin, which filed the first lawsuit against the pipeline owner and the boat owner. Cantu sustained severe burns.

The $100 million lawsuit charges that both Orion and Epic neglected to provide a safe workplace, failed to adequately survey the area for hidden dangers, and failed to warn the crew of pipelines in the area.

Six additional lawsuits have been filed since Cantu’s. Four of the lawsuits seek $50 million each, two are asking for $100 million each, and one is seeking $10 million.

Listed in the lawsuits are: Orion Marine Group LLC, Orion Marine Construction Inc., Epic Midstream Holdings LP, Epic Midstream Holdings GP LLC, Epic Crude Holdings LP, Enterprise Products Operating LLC, and Enterprise Products Partners LP.

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