U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California

A Unit Of The Pacific Southwest Region

Team Recognized for Rapid Restoration after Oil Spill

Staff from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (Service) Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office recently received an award from the Department of the Interior’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program for their contributions to the successful assessment, settlement and quick restoration implementation for the Cosco Busan Oil Spill.

Photo of Team being recognized at the DOI Awards Ceremony

Staff from the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office joined fellow award recipients at the Department of the Interior Awards Ceremony in Phoenix, Arizona.

The M/V Cosco Busan crashed into the Oakland Bay Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Estuary early on the morning of November 7, 2007, spilling 54,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil. Over the next several days, the tides spread the oil throughout the Central Bay and along the central coast of California. The spill caused widespread beach closures, recreational and commercial fishery closures, and cancellation of many activities associated with use of Bay waters. The NRDA Trustees, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service (NPS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), and the legal team including the DOI Office of the Solicitor (Solicitor’s Office) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), quickly sprung to action for both response and NRDA. This group led the effort to complete the damage assessment, settlement negotiations, and restoration planning in a highly efficient and timely manner.

In early 2010, a little more than 2 years after the spill, the Trustees had completed the assessment and settlement negotiations with the Responsible Parties. By early 2012, after the completion of the complicated criminal and ancillary civil proceedings, the Consent Decree was entered and the Trustees issued a final Restoration Plan. Through seamless teamwork among the trustee agency staff and dedication to the goals of NRDA, the Trustees recovered the largest natural resource damages amount in history under the Oil Pollution Act.

In the assessment, the Trustees estimated that close to 7,000 birds were killed, up to 25% of the winter herring spawn was lost, close to 3,500 acres of shoreline habitat were impacted, and over a million recreational user-days were lost. For these injuries, the Trustees negotiated a settlement that included $36.8 million for natural resource damages, including reimbursement of past assessment costs and the amounts needed for restoration implementation and Trustee council oversight activities. It also took into account the needs of local governments and agencies. The settlement totaled $44 million, the largest ever under the Oil Pollution Act.

Almost immediately after completion of the restoration plan and consent decree in 2012, the Trustees began directing settlement funds toward restoration efforts. To date, $12 million has been allocated to projects due to the hard work of these dedicated individuals who have worked tirelessly since the date of the spill in 2007 and have put the resources and teamwork above all else to accomplish natural resource restoration.

Receiving the award for the Service were Janet Whitlock, NRDA Branch Chief, Carolyn Marn, Senior Biologist, and Toby McBride, Senior Biologist.

Partner staff from the NPS, NOAA, OSPR, the Solicitor’s Office, and DOJ were also recognized, including; Darren Fong (NPS), Daphne Hatch (NPS), Kristen Ward (NPS), Greg Baker (NOAA), Natalie Cosentino–Manning (NOAA), Christopher Plaisted (NOAA), Michael Anderson (OSPR), Steve Hampton (OSPR), Beckye Stanton (OSPR), Kathy Verrue-Slater (OSPR), Matt Zafonte (OSPR), Chuck McKinley (Solicitor’s Office), Brad O’Brien (DOJ) and Michael Underhill (DOJ).

Last updated: November 9, 2017