Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cosco Busan Owners To Pay $44.5M For 2007 Oil Spill

Federal and California state authorities announced Monday a $44.5 million settlement with the owner of the container vessel Cosco Busan to cover the cleanup costs and environmental damage caused when the vessel hit a Bay Area bridge in November 2007 and leaked more than 53,000 gallons of diesel fuel into San Francisco Bay.

The US Department of Justice, the state of California, the city and county of San Francisco and the city of Richmond, California, signed and lodged a consent decree that requires Regal Stone Limited and Fleet Management Ltd., the owners and operators of the M/V Cosco Busan, to pay $44.4 million for natural resource damages and penalties and to reimburse the governmental entities for response costs incurred as a result of the Cosco Busan allision and subsequent leak.

The federal and state natural resource trustees estimate that the Cosco Busan spill killed 6,849 birds, impacted 14 to 29 percent of the herring spawn that winter, oiled 3,367 acres of shoreline habitat and resulted in the loss of more than one million recreational user-days.

A result of a multi-governmental effort by federal and state agencies, and municipal governments, the settlement is expected to fully compensate (in addition to previously reimbursed costs) for the natural resources and other damages and costs resulting from the spill.

The portion of the settlement for lost human uses of the shoreline and the bay, $18.8 million, constitutes one of the largest human use recoveries for any oil spill in the United States. Of this, the National Park Service is receiving approximately $9.75 million to improve coastal access and facilities in the bayside, coastal and estuarine areas of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and Point Reyes National Seashore.

The remaining $9 million will be disbursed either directly to local government as part of the consent decree or through a grant program to fund shoreline recreational projects throughout the impacted spill areas.

"With this settlement, we are seeing to it that those responsible for the spill are held accountable and that they pay their share for restoring and improving our precious natural resources and public lands," US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said during a press conference on Treasure Island overlooking the site of the 2007 incident.