Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Feds File Charges in Bay Spill

By Chris Thompson
Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 7:49 AM

Looks like John Cota, the pilot who crashed his container ship into the Bay Bridge last November, will face the wrath of the federal government. Yesterday, the San Francisco US Attorney's office charged Cota with two misdemeanor counts of violating the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. For, you know, spilling 58,000 gallons of oil into the bay and killing untold thousands of birds.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the feds claim that Cota initiated a string of negligent deeds, including sailing at a dangerously high speed, failing to use radar, and sailing into a fog bank. In addition, Cota may have been impaired by medication he was taking to treat a sleep disorder.

Cota has already surrendered his federal license, and California officials have temporarily yanked his state license as well; even if he beats the rap, his career as a pilot is almost assuredly over. Meanwhile, the insurance agent for the ship's owners have agreed to an initial $2 million payment, but that's just a fraction of the estimated $60 million cleanup cost.

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