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New York Transportation Company Faces $10 Million Fine for Buzzards Bay Oil Spill

Release Date: 04/07/2004
Contact Information:

Suzanne Ackerman 202-564-7819 /

(04/07/04) On March 29, Bouchard Transportation Company of Hicksville, N.Y. pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as a result of an oil spill in Buzzards Bay, Mass. The company admitted that improper operation of the tugboat, Evening Tide, led to a major spill in Buzzards Bay of Number 6 fuel oil, a heavy oil used by ocean liners and tankers as fuel. The spill killed 450 protected birds, necessitated the closure of thousands of acres of the bay’s shellfish beds and polluted nearly 90 miles of Mass. shoreline. On Apr. 27, 2003, the tug’s Mate piloted the vessel as it entered the bay’s channel. The mate left his post and the oil barge being towed by the tug drifted onto rocks outside the channel, damaging the barge and causing oil to spill into the bay. Removal of Number 6 oil from coastal areas is necessary because it degrades slowly, often lasting for years. The oil also harms wildlife by coating birds, smothering intertidal organisms and contaminating sediment. Bouchard Transportation has agreed to pay a $10 million fine, with $7 million going to the North American Wetlands Conservation fund. Of the remaining fine, $2 million will be paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and $1 million will be suspended if Bouchard Transportation successfully completes probation and establishes an environmental compliance program. The case was investigated by the Boston Area Office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement with assistance from the U.S. Secret Service, the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.