Federal hearing on Texas oil spill resumes

A barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel, March 22, 2014. The bulk carrier Summer Wind, reported a collision between the Summer Wind and the barge, containing 924,000 gallons of fuel oil. The barge collided with a ship in Galveston Bay on Saturday, leaking an unknown amount of the fuel into the popular bird habitat as the peak of the migratory shorebird season was approaching. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, PO3 Manda Emery)

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The captain of a tugboat whose barges collided with a cargo freighter in the Houston Ship Channel says the larger vessel increased its speed in foggy conditions and she couldn’t turn quickly to avoid the crash.

No one was hurt in the March 22 accident but nearly 170,000 gallons of oil spilled into the busy waterway and the Gulf of Mexico.

Capt. Kelli Hartman of the Kirby Inland Marine tugboat Miss Susan said she calculated she had enough time to cross the channel pushing two barges between Texas and Galveston but the cargo ship Summer Wind had increased its speed.

She told federal investigators Tuesday that the speed coupled with fog and the presence of two other vessels in the waterway meant it was too late to avoid a collision.

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