Texas officials order abandoned rig removed

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson ordered the immediate removal of a derelict jack up rig, Zeus, that authorities say has long threatened to topple into the Freeport Ship Channel and spill toxic sludge.

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, July 9 -- Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson ordered the immediate removal of a derelict jack up rig, Zeus, that authorities say has long threatened to topple into the Freeport Ship Channel and spill toxic sludge.

The emergency order was the first under new authority to remove derelict structures from state waters. State lawmakers also authorized $2 million to enable immediate rig removal.

Zeus owner Sanship Inc. of Brownsville remains liable for its removal costs and any cleanup costs. Sanship also could be subject to fines, penalties, and fees, state officials said.

"We're getting on this right now—the courts can decide ultimately who foots the bill," Patterson said. "But the quicker this work is done, the better."

Already Zeus has begun leaking an oily mix into coastal waters, he said. But the greatest threat poised by the abandoned rig is its potential to collapse into the ship channel.

The US Coast Guard inspected the jack up and determined a hurricane or tornado could cause its collapse, consequently interrupting Brazosport, Tex., shipping activities. The Texas General Land Office is working with Port Freeport management, which will hire a contractor for the jack up removal and cleanup by using state funding.

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