The U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are opening a week of hearings into the collision of a barge and a freighter that spilled nearly 170,000 gallons of fuel oil into the Houston Ship Channel earlier this year.
No injuries were reported from the March 22 collision on the busy waterway between Texas City and Galveston. But the spilled oil coated shoreline on the southern end of Galveston Bay and flowed into the nearby Gulf of Mexico. Oil traces were found more than 200 miles down the coast on North Padre Island.
The accident also snarled traffic for five days on the ship channel, which serves the nation's largest petrochemical complex.
The hearings starting Monday aren't intended to determine blame and no conclusions are to be released immediately.