Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘ship’

July 18, 2009

Cosco Busan ship pilot gets 10 months in jail

This week a federal judge finally sentenced the ship pilot to 10 months in prison for his responsibility in the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill in the San Francisco Bay that caused widespread bird deaths.

Capt. John Cota, 61, of Petaluma, CA is the first ship’s pilot in U.S. maritime history to be sent to prison for a shipping accident.

During a brief statement at the end of the hourlong hearing in Federal court Friday, Cota apologized to the judge and the public for the harm he had caused.

“Pilots view themselves as protectors of the environment,” he was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle story. “That’s why it is painful to have played a role in an accident that has damaged it.”

The ship’s pilot was helping guide the Cosco Busan container ship out of San Francisco Bay when it struck the SF Bay Bridge in heavy fog on an early morning in November 2007. More than 50,000 gallons of bunker crude spilled into the bay and spread to area beaches.

In sentencing Cota, Judge Illston told him the jail time reflects lawmakers efforts to punish criminally negiligent parties following the horrific Exxon Valdez spill.

Following the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill of 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska, the tanker’s captain, Joseph Hazelwood, was fined only $50,000 but did’t spent any time in jail.

During the Cosco Busan spill thousands of birds were killed by the fast spreading spill. IBRRC working with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), helped rescue and rehabilitate more than 420 birds that were returned to the wild.

Read more: San Francisco Chronicle story

Also see: After the Cosco Busan spill

November 12, 2008

Ticking oil spill time bomb off Central CA coast?

A sunken oil tanker hit by a Japanese submarine torpedoes nearly 70 years ago, may be a ticking oil spill time bomb off the central coast of California.

The “Montebello” sits in 900 feet of water about six miles from Cambria at the southern edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Most of its original cargo – 4.1 million gallons of crude oil – is intact.

The 440-foot tanker is one of the hundreds of sunken ships off the west coast. It sunk on Dec. 23, 1941, just 16 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It had just departed Port San Luis, where it was loaded with 75,000 barrels of Santa Maria crude. It was heading north to Vancouver, British Columbia before it was sunk 170 miles south of San Francisco.

Two formal expeditions have dived on the ship, the first in 1996 and the most recent in 2003. Now covered in bioluminescent anemone and draped with fishing nets, divers said they found the hull in decent shape in the latest dive. According to one theory, the tanks are still in one piece partly because pressure from the semisolid oil on the inside is keeping the hull from leaking.


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High cost of environmental damage

Why should we care about these sunken tankers? Besides the obvious answer of ruptured tanker holds leaking oil, we’re concerned about oil causing injury to birds unlucky enough to find themselves in the middle of a slick.

For years, IBRRC took in thousands of oiled birds picked up from a “mystery spill” that hit beaches from Ocean Beach in San Francisco south to Half Moon Bay. Thousands of Common Murres were oiled during this chronic oiling. The oil was finally linked to the S.S. Jacob Luckenbach that sunk in 1953 approximately 17 miles southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge off of San Francisco. The “fingerprint” of this oil matches oil taken from tarballs and oiled feathers from past “mystery spills” in 1992-93, 1997-98, 1999, and Feb. 2001.

The Luckenbach was cleaned of its leaking oil in the spring of 2002. The Coast Guard and the Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) managed a contractor that pumped out an estimated 300,000 gallons of oil at a cost of nearly $20 million. The job was completed in October 2002.

Read more online:

Monterey County Weekly

New Times

Los Angeles Times

California Connected

January 19, 2008

New revelations in spill: Ship pilot’s sleep disorder

More information has surfaced in the Cosco Busan’s collision with the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the subsequent spilling of 58,000 gallons. The latest investigation involves the ship pilot who has revealed he was under medication for sleep apnea, a disorder that causes a person’s breathing to become impaired leading to bouts of sleepiness.

John Cota, 59 was taking the drug Provigil that in some cases “may impair your judgment, thinking, or motor skills.” The warnings continue: “You should not drive a car or operate hazardous machinery until you know how this medication affects you.”

Cota was helping guidie the Cosco Busan out of San Francisco Bay when it side-swiped the bridge in dense fog on November 7, 2007. The bunker fuel that spilled from the 900-foot Hong Kong flagged container ship killed at least 2,500 birds and closed beaches and shoreline for weeks.

See AP story: Pilot’s sleep disorder investigated in SF oil spill

December 21, 2007

Good riddance: Cosco Busan sails out of port

Chased by lawsuits, the Cosco Busan ship that side-swiped the San Francisco Bay Bridge, finally headed back to South Korea.

The ship sailed out of San Francisco on a crsytal clear day on Thursday morning. Numerous lawsuits will follow the owners of the ship, including a big lawsuit filed by the city of San Francisco.

The Hong Kong based Cosco Busan spilled 58,000 gallons of toxic bunker fuel into the San Francisco Bay after it struck the bridge on November 7, 2007. Nearly 2,500 birds were killed in the spill.

It had been at a Pier 70 ship repair yard to fix the 230-foot gash in its port side. Regal Stone, the owner of the 900-foot ship, put up a $80 million note to cover the maritime release bond. Most of that bond will help pay the total cleanup costs on the spill which have been estimated at more than $60 million.

(Coast Guard photo of the gash; Yes it’s been repaired)

November 9, 2007

Dark day on San Francisco Bay

The staff here at International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) has been working non-stop for the three days rescuing as many oiled birds as possible. So far, the center in Cordelia has more than 70 birds in care.

Check out the disturbing photos on SF Chronicle’s website

The culprit of this spill is the Cosco Busan. It’s a container ship that struck the San Francisco Bay Bridge on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 causing 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil to dump into the bay. It was heading out to sea when the accident happened.

IBRRC was quickly alerted by mid day on Wednesday to the potential of oiled animals. As a major partner in the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), we had staff members on the water and shoreline surveying the damage to wildlife.

As spill is coating birds and other wildlife. Unless these birds are rescued soon, the oil spill potentially will endanger the lives of thousands of birds that live in and migrate through these coastal waters.

Check our website is http://www.ibrrc.org