The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

1,200-foot ship dragged California oil pipeline

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Investigat­ors believe a 1,200-foot cargo ship dragging anchor in rough seas caught an underwater oil pipeline and pulled it across the seafloor, months before a leak from the line fouled the Southern California coastline with crude.

A team of federal investigat­ors trying to chase down the cause of the spill boarded the Panama-registered MSC DANIT just hours after the massive ship arrived this weekend off the Port of Long Beach, the same area where the leak was discovered in early October.

During a prior visit by the ship during a heavy storm in January, investigat­ors believe its anchor dragged for an unknown distance before striking the 16-inch steel pipe, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. SondraKay Kneen said Sunday.

The impact would have knocked an inch-thick concrete casing off the pipe and pulled it more than 100 feet (30 meters), bending but not breaking the line, Kneen said.

Still undetermin­ed is whether the impact caused the October leak, or if the line was hit by something else at a later date or failed due to a preexistin­g problem, Kneen said.

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