California, U.S. Settle Suit in San Francisco Bay Spill for $44.4 Million

California and the U.S. Justice Department reached a $44.4 million civil settlement with Regal Stone Ltd. and Fleet Management Ltd., whose ship struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 2007.

The subsequent 53,000-gallon (200,000-liter) oil spill from the Cosco Busan container ship killed thousands of birds, harmed the 2008 herring spawn in the San Francisco Bay, spoiled miles of coastline and closed the bay and beaches in the area for recreation, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said today in a statement.

“This bay is the jewel of the San Francisco region and the Cosco Busan oil spill left a lasting scar across our water, natural habitats and wildlife,” Harris said. “This settlement will allow all of these precious resources to be restored to their original health and beauty.”

The captain of the ship pleaded guilty in 2009 to a negligence charge and was sentenced to 10 months in prison. Hong Kong-based Fleet Management, the company that operated the ship, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in 2009 and agreed to pay a $10 million fine.

A consent decree was filed today in federal court in San Francisco.

“Out of respect for the consent decree’s public comment period it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time,” Darrell Wilson, a spokesman for Regal Stone, the ship’s owner, said in an e-mailed statement. “We regret that the accident occurred and deeply appreciate all those who contributed to the response.”

The case is U.S. v. M/V Cosco Busan, 07-6045, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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