Brown sues for oil spill repayment

Legal News Line Jan. 7, 2009, 9:27am

Jerry Brown (D)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Jerry Brown is suing the owners of the MV Cosco Busan, a ship that spilled more than 50,000 gallons of oil into the San Francisco Bay in 2007.

Brown's suit, on behalf of the California Department of Fish and Game, the State Lands Commission and State Water Boards, seeks to recover damages that can be used to restore natural resources harmed by the spill, in addition to repayment for the costs of the oil removal, legal costs and civil penalties.

"This was a preventable accident that had tragic consequences," Brown said in a statement. "The Cosco Busan crashed into the bay bridge, polluting our waters and killing thousands of birds."

Brown's lawsuit also names several defendants, including the pilot of the vessel, John Cota, and several companies related to the operations of the ship.

On Nov. 7, 2007, Cota piloted the Cosco Busan into the Bay Bridge's Delta Tower. Oil spilled immediately into the bay, eventually spreading to the Pacific Ocean.

Several California agencies immediately began clean-up and wildlife restoration efforts.

"The Cosco Busan spill has all the making of an international puzzle," said San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board Executive Officer Bruce Wolfe.

Oil from the spill was found along more than 50 miles of California's shoreline and sandy beaches, according to the attorney general's office. Workers collected more than 1,000 live birds, of which nearly half were rescued and released. Close to 2,000 birds died from the spill.

"We appreciate the attorney general's efforts to assist the Department of Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response in protecting and restoring California's wildlife, habitats and recreational opportunities that were injured or lost as a result of the Cosco Busan oil spill," said Office of Spill Response Administrator Stephen Edinger.

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