643 F.2d 1125 (5th Cir. 1981), 80-1533, United States v. Coastal States Crude Gathering Co.

Docket Nº:80-1533.
Citation:643 F.2d 1125
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. COASTAL STATES CRUDE GATHERING COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:April 27, 1981
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 1125

643 F.2d 1125 (5th Cir. 1981)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,



No. 80-1533.

Unit A

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

April 27, 1981

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied May 21, 1981.

Page 1126

David S. Gamble, Houston, Tex., for defendant-appellant.

J. A. Canales, U.S. Atty., Houston, Tex., James W. Moorman, Asst. Atty. Gen., Anne S. Almy, Martin W. Matzen, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Before INGRAHAM, POLITZ and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

POLITZ, Circuit Judge:

Coastal States Crude Gathering Company (Coastal) appeals a summary judgment in favor of the United States enforcing a "civil" penalty in the amount of $5,000 against Coastal pursuant to 33 U.S.C. § 1321(b)(6). We amend the judgment to provide for a penalty of $1,000 and, as amended, affirm.

Finding no genuine issue of material fact, the district court summarized the facts as follows:

Both parties agree that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact in this case. On or about June 7, 1977, approximately 5,200 barrels of gasoline were discharged into Nueces Bay, near Corpus Christi, Texas, from a product pipeline known as the Houston 12-inch pipeline owned and operated by the Defendant. The gasoline escaped from the pipeline through a small "hairline" fracture at a point well outside the navigational channel in Nueces Bay. At the point of the fracture in the pipeline, Nueces Bay was at least four feet deep, and the pipeline was buried at a depth of at least three feet below the bottom of the Bay. The pipeline in question had been installed by the Defendant in accordance with all applicable governmental regulations and standard industry practice.

It seems that the discharge resulted solely from the acts of an unknown third

Page 1127

party. Inspection of the pipeline, conducted immediately after the discharge was discovered, revealed that the leak was caused when the pipe was struck by a vessel owned by an unknown third party traveling well outside the navigation channel in Nueces Bay. The vessel struck the pipeline with enough force to penetrate the two inches of concrete in which the pipeline had been encased and to dent and gouge the body of...

To continue reading