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Oil tanker regulations ignored, trimmed back

Eric Nalder of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigated the inner-workings of a tanker fleet owned by the third-largest oil company in the nation, ConocoPhillips. The series was inspired by a mystery spill in Puget Sound. The company had denied that its ship, the Polar Texas, was the spiller, while the U.S. Coast Guard said the oil matched the vessel's cargo. The investigation revealed a much wider pattern, that on the West Coast important reforms following Exxon Valdez spill are being undermined, ignored, violated and, in the case of tug escorts, trimmed back through the influence of the oil company. The P-I revealed through interviews and internal company documents a wide pattern of misconduct and dangerous behavior aboard a number of the company's huge ships, vessels that regularly carry nearly 40 million gallons of oil over some of the roughest seas in the world to refinery ports in Washington and California.

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