Marine and Coastal Law: Cases and Materials

By Dennis W. Nixon | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
MARINE POLLUTION LAW

Salaky v. The Atlas Barge No. 3 et al., 208 F.2d 174 (2nd Cir. 1953)

CLARK, CIRCUIT JUDGE

Libelant is the assignee of claims of some forty-four owners of small craft under an assignment executed in the State of New Jersey. He instituted his action alleging damage to these various craft moored in and about the Yacht Basin at Perth Amboy, N.J., caused by oil sludge and foreign matter discharged from the barges Atlas Barge No. 3 and Catherine O'Boyle into the water of Arthur Kill and Raritan Bay in the vicinity of Perth Amboy in April 1946. The court below found for libelant by an interlocutory decree referring the issue of damages to a commissioner for computation, and respondents appeal.

The evidence discloses that at 8 o'clock in the morning in question a representative of the U.S. Coast Guard observed oil on the waters of the Yacht Basin. Later that day, some time after 1 P.M., together with a U.S. Customs inspector, he boarded the Catherine O'Boyle, which was docked about 1½ miles north of the Yacht Basin on the Staten Island side of Arthur Kill. She was found with a pump still hot from recent use, its suction line leading down into the forepeak and its discharge line leading over the side. There was oil on the water all around her.

There was, however, undisputed and unimpeached testimony to the effect that the O'Boyle was empty; that she had carried no oil, but tar which is solid; that to liquefy tar for unloading requires certain steam equipment, not found on board, but attached up, when needed, from another vessel or shore installation; that the cargo tanks ran clear to her bottom, leaving no standard stem to stern bilge; that the forepeak was thus an isolated storage compartment whence the crew had, on the morning in question, pumped not more than thirty gallons of water. We can find no adequate reason for rejecting this testimony. Further, as we have just indicated, there is no actual evidence that the O'Boyle was responsible for any of the oil found in the Arthur Kill.

The Atlas Barge No. 3 was, at the time, tied to a dock on the New Jersey side a mile and a half further up the Kill and some three miles from the Yacht Basin. For several days she had been engaged in cleaning the tanks of three ves-

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