The owners and operators of the M/V Cosco Busan, the ship that struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in November 2007, causing a massive oil spill, have agreed to pay $45 million to resolve all environmental damages, penalties and response costs stemming from the accident. United States v. M/V Cosco Busan, No. 07‑6045 (N.D. Cal. proposed consent decree lodged 9/19/11). The incident, in which the South Korea-bound container ship hit a tower supporting the bridge in thick fog, resulted in a 53,000-gallon oil spill into the bay.
The United States sued the ship owners alleging violations of the Oil Pollution Act, National Marine Sanctuaries Act, Park System Resource Protection Act, and Clean Water Act. California’s Department of Fish and Game, State Lands Commission and Regional Water Quality Control Board-San Francisco Bay Region filed a separate complaint in January 2009 under state and federal laws. In an earlier criminal action, Fleet Management Ltd., the ship’s co-owners, paid a $10-million criminal penalty, and the ship’s pilot was sentenced to serve 10 months in prison.
The proposed settlements resolve all currently pending claims against the ship’s owners. Of the settlement amount, $5 million will be set aside for bird restoration projects, $4 million for habitat restoration and $2.5 million for fish and eelgrass restoration. The proposed consent decree is subject to public comment and court approval.