The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on September 19 a civil settlement with the owners and operators of a ship that struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 2007 and spilled 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay. The event killed thousands of birds, impacted a significant portion of the Bay’s 2008 herring spawn, spoiled miles of shoreline habitat, and closed the Bay and area beaches to recreation and fishing.
Under the comprehensive settlement – the largest ever under the federal Oil Pollution Act – the owners and operators of the M/V Cosco Busan agreed to pay $44.4 million for natural resource damages and penalties and to reimburse federal, state, and local governments for the costs of responding to the spill. The lion’s share of the settlement will be spent on projects that will restore the injured Bay Area resources and aid the public in enjoying them.
Along with the settlement, NOAA and its fellow federal and state natural resource trustee agencies announced the release of their draft plan to restore the resources injured by the spill. The plan contains a suite of on-the-ground projects that will benefit birds, fish, shoreline habitats, and public recreational sites. Since day one of the spill and throughout the injury assessment, settlement negotiations, and restoration planning process, the Department of Commerce has been and will remain actively involved through NOAA’s Office of General Counsel for Natural Resources, Restoration Center, Assessment and Restoration Division, and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
More information on the settlement and the restoration plan is available here.