California AG Sues Operators and Pilot for San Francisco Bay Oil Spill

January 22, 2009

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the California Department of Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response, State Lands Commission and State Water Boards against the owners, operators and pilot of the M/V Cosco Busan, the shipping vessel that spilled more than 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay in 2007, “polluting our waters and killing thousands of birds.”

“This was a preventable accident that had tragic consequences,” Attorney General Brown said. “The Cosco Busan crashed into the Bay Bridge, polluting our waters and killing thousands of birds.”

On Nov. 7, 2007, the Cosco Busan, piloted by John Cota, hit the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s Delta Tower. The crash caused approximately 53,569 of gallons of oil to spill into San Francisco Bay and spread to the Pacific Ocean and along Bay Area shorelines.

Oil from the spill was found along at least 56 miles of rocky intertidal coastline, 52 miles of sandy beach coastline, 10 miles of saltmarsh coastline, and several hundred acres of intertidal eelgrass beds. According to the California Department of Fish and Game, responders collected 1,084 live birds, of which 418 were released after rescue. Responders found 1,859 birds dead from the oil spill.

The California Department of Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response, along with the United States Coast Guard, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Parks Service, San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the National Marine Sanctuaries responded with cleanup and wildlife rescue efforts. To date, the state has resources from the Oil Spill Response Trust Fund on the cleanup and assessment of natural resource damages resulting from the oil spill.

“The Cosco Busan spill has all the makings of an international puzzle,” said San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board Executive Officer Bruce Wolfe. “The Regional Water Board has unique authority under California’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act to focus the diverse parties involved here on restoring the water quality of San Francisco Bay and other affected waters of the state. With the help of Attorney General Brown, we expect a fair and just resolution on behalf of the people of the state.”

The lawsuit aims to recover damages to restore natural resources injured by the spill and the costs of response, containment and clean-up. The lawsuit also seeks to recover the costs of removal and treatment of wildlife affected by the spill, as well as the cost of assessing natural resource damages, legal costs and civil penalties.

The defendants include:
• Regal Stone Ltd.
• Fleet Management Ltd.
• Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd.
• Synergy Management Services
• Synergy Marine Ltd.
• John J. Cota, San Francisco Bar Pilot

A copy of the complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court is available at http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/press/pdfs/n1646_cosco_busan_complaint.pdf.

Source: AG

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