Trustees Settle Natural Resource Damage Claims Arrising from M/V Cosco Busan Oil Spill in California

Last edited 09/25/2020

Crissy Field beach closed due to oil spill
The beach at Crissy Field in the Presidio of San Francisco, part of the NPS-managed Golden Gate National Recreation Area, in San Francisco, California, was closed to the public in this November 8, 2007 photo because of oiling from the M/V Cosco Busan. Over 1 million recreational user-days on public shorelines like this were lost due to the oil spill. Photo credit: Paul Chinn, San Francisco Chronicle.

On January 27, 2012, the United States, the State of California, the City and County of San Francisco and the City of Richmond settled claims, including natural resource damage claims, from the owners and operators of the container ship M/V Cosco Busan. The Consent Decree approving the settlement was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

On the morning of November 7, 2007 the M/V Cosco Busan struck a tower footing of the San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge while leaving harbor, opening a gash in the vessel’s starboard side and puncturing a fuel tank. Approximately 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil were released into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean and onto adjoining shorelines.

The natural resource trustees involved in this case include Department of the Interior (including Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service), Department of Commerce (including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the State of California (including California Department of Fish and Game, California State Lands Commission and Regional Water Quality Control Board – San Francisco Bay Region).

The spilled oil fouled 3,367 acres of shoreline within San Francisco Bay and along California’s Pacific coast, killed an estimated 6,849 seabirds and water birds (including the federally endangered marbled murrelet), adversely affected almost a third of the Bay’s herring spawn that winter, stained historic ships and resulted in the loss of over 1 million recreational user-days. The shorelines of 4 National Park units were oiled including Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park and Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park.

Among other provisions in the Consent Decree, the settlement calls for:

  • payment to DOI of $23,389,033.00 plus apportioned interest for natural resource restoration projects;
  • payment to DOI of $129,682.60 plus apportioned interest for past assessment costs; and,
  • payment to DOI of $143,033.00 for restoration of oiled historic ships.

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