Monday, March 17, 2008

Cosco Busan Pilot Charged

Breaking news in the San Fran Chronicle this lunchtime:

The pilot guiding the Cosco Busan container ship that rammed the Bay Bridge last November sending thousands of gallons of oil swilling around the Bay and coastline has been charged with violating federal laws.

Pilot John Joseph Cota was charged in federal court in San Fran with the negligent discharge of a pollutant and killing migratory birds including brown pelicans, marbled murrelets and western grebes.

Over 50,000 gallons of oil were spilled and over 2,000 birds died. Cota is accused of piloting errors and failing to use the ship's radar as they approached the bridge in heavy fog.

His attorney said the charges were premature as the National Transportation Safety Board has not yet published it's report on the accident.

'Capt. Cota, who was born and raised in San Francisco, cares deeply about the San Francisco Bay and its ecosystem and is deeply distressed about what happened on Nov. 7 .... We strongly believe that once all of the evidence is heard, a jury will find in Capt. Cota's favor,' the attorney is reported as saying.

Insurance agents for the ship's owners have agreed a $2 million initial payment towards the clean-up costs but a final settlement is yet to be determined.

This report is taken from the San Fran Chronicle and further details are in the report by Henry K Lee which can be accessed by clicking the link at the top. The story is also covered by Associated Press and published in the Chronicle.

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