Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. and its affiliates will pay more than $6 million to settle some of the federal and state natural resource damages (NRD) claims stemming from an April 2003 oil spill into Buzzards Bay off the coast of Massachusetts. U.S. v. Bouchard Transp. Co., Inc., No. 10-11958 (D. Mass. consent decree lodged 11/15/10). The accident occurred when a barge carrying fuel en route from Philadelphia to Sandwich, Massachusetts, grounded on a shoal, rupturing its hull and spilling 98,000 gallons of oil into the bay. Winds and currents pushed the spilled fuel oil toward shore, affecting some 100 miles of Massachusetts and Rhode Island coastline.
According to press reports, hundreds of loons, sea ducks and other birds were killed as a result of the spill, and nearby beaches were severely contaminated. The company previously agreed to a $10 million fine as part of a criminal plea relating to the spill. The government charged that the tug boat towing the barge was negligently piloted, resulting in the deaths of migratory birds in violation of the Federal Migratory Bird Act. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day comment period and court approval. See DOJ Press Release and Law360, November 15, 2010.