CBS Evening News for Tuesday, Dec 21, 1976
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(Studio) Grounded oil tanker, off Massachusetts coast, breaks up today, causing worst oil spill in United States coastal history. Spill threatens marine life in that area of Atlantic Ocean, especially Georges Fishing Bank; spill now moving out to sea and not expected to move back to beaches at Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod.
REPORTER: Walter Cronkite
(Boston, Massachusetts) Coast Guard had hoped to keep "Argo Merchant" together long enough to pump remaining oil from ship, but waves tore ship apart. Effects on fishing and tourist industry of area noted; some New Bedford, Massachusetts, fishermen have already had to ditch catch. [Fisherman Edward ANDERSON - says this proves oil companies can't clean up disaster in short time. Says companies may know North Sea but not north Atlantic in winter.] Director of National Maritime Fishery Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Dr. Robert Edwards, says there won't be disaster. [EDWARDS - says oil not expected to move close to shore and will probably move on out to sea.] Cape Cod fishermen's lawsuit against owner and captain of ship noted. Chances for salvaging remaining oil remote.
REPORTER: Don Kladstrup
(S)Importance of international waters of Georges Bank to fishing inds. of US, Japan, USSR and eastern Europe noted. Before "Argo Merchant" breakup, legal battle with regard to liability for damage in area had begun.
REPORTER: Walter Cronkite
(DC) Owners of vessel file suit in New York court by old maritime law that liability limited to value of wrecked ship and damaged ptys. can collect more only with proof owner, not crew, responsible for incident. Liberian corporation is front for ship's real owners. Ship's previous mishaps noted. US isn't part of international fund to pay damages and Coast Guard hasn't required special precautions against wreckage spills partly for cost reasons. [Coast Guard commandant Admiral Owen SILER - cites reasons and considerations involved in such requirements.] [EPA director Russell TRAIN - says more such accidents will happen and stringent safeguards should be developed and enforced.] Effects of proposed rules noted.
REPORTER: Fred Graham
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