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Cosco Busan Settlement Largest Ever

Though no one knows for sure what the long-term effects of the Cosco Busan oil spill on San Francisco Bay will be, it appears the recent $44.4 million civil settlement between local, state and federal officials and Fleet Management Ltd, the owners of the ill-fated oil tanker, has brought the legal wrangling to a close. On November 7, 2007, Bay Pilot John Cota sideswiped the Bay Bridge, tearing a 150-ft x 12-ft hole in the side of the ship and causing 53,000 gallons of fuel oil to spill into the Bay. An estimated 6,849 birds died, while countless others were sickened, the winter herring run was off by 29%, 3,367 acres of shoreline were polluted, and more than a million "recreational user days" were lost.

The company that owned the Cosco Busan will be paying a total of $54.4 million in fines and a settlement. Is it enough to mitigate the effects of the oil spill?

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The civil settlement is the largest since the enactment of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 — a direct result of the devastating Exxon Valdez spill — and is added to $10 million in criminal fines against the company for its role in the spill and obstructing the investigation by submitting falsified and forged documents. Cota served 10 months in prison and is currently serving one year of supervised release for his role in the spill.

With $36.8 million earmarked for assessing and remediating damage — the remainder is to be paid to the state — and $2 million of the criminal fine dedicated to fund environmental projects on San Francisco Bay, perhaps some good will come from the disaster — we just hope it’s not too little, too late.

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While moored at Catalina’s Cherry Cove a weekend ago, the crews of Miss Teak, Destiny and Serendipity — all of whom spent the last winter cruising Mexico as far south as Zihua and as far north as Puerto Escondido — got into a conversation with three gentlemen in a large inflatable who reported they were going to do this year’s FUBAR (Fleet Underway To Baja Rally).