FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEENRD
THURSDAY, JULY 6, 2000(978) 514-2008
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
The agreement requires the defendants to implement a project to restock Block Island Sound with 1.25 million female lobsters over the next three to five years. Under the project, adult female lobsters will be purchased from wholesalers, have their tails marked with a v-shaped notch, and be released into Block Island Sound. Because it is illegal to harvest such a notched lobster, this project will increase the number of adult females in Block Island Sound, boosting the production of offspring and the overall lobster population.
"The Nation's coastal areas and residents are the beneficiaries when trustees and responsible parties work together to accomplish restoration of the natural resources injured by oil spills. "We look forward to quickly implementing restoration and returning the lobsters, shellfish, loons, sea birds and other natural resources to their pre-spill condition," said David Kennedy, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Response and Restoration.
The civil settlement filed today is in addition to $8.5 million in criminal penalties imposed on the owners of the barge in 1998 as a result of a joint federal-state criminal investigation into the causes of the spill.
"This filing is the final chapter in a four-year struggle to restore the resources damaged during the North Cape oil spill," said Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Almond. "It means that we can finally begin to see tangible restoration projects both on the ground and in the water. The agreement is a triumph for the trustees not only in securing all of the restoration objectives we sought, but in doing so in so short a time for so complex a case."
The defendants also will pay $8 million to the natural resource trustees so the agencies can monitor the lobster restoration project and carry out additional projects to restore the environment, including:
Shellfish Restoration: The trustees will spend approximately $1.5 million on a shellfish restoration project that will involve transplanting about 10.2 million adult quahogs to designated sanctuaries in Narragansett Bay and coastal salt ponds. If feasible, these clams will be taken from an area proposed for dredging in the Providence River, supplemented if necessary by shellfish markets. Otherwise, the trustees may undertake additional shellfish projects.
Salt Pond Land Acquisition: The trustees will spend approximately $1.6 million to buy land, or a conservation easement, near or adjacent to one or more of Rhode Island's salt ponds. The project, aimed at preventing development of about 42 residential lots, will benefit salt pond water column and benthic resources, and the biota dependent on them, by preventing increases in nutrient loading caused by septic discharges.
Loon Restoration: The trustees will spend approximately $3 million to buy and protect loon habitat and monitor loon nesting sites. The trustees expect to contribute some of the funds toward the acquisition of a conservation easement along the shore of a lake in Maine, where loons are known to nest.
Sea Bird Restoration: The trustees will spend approximately $400,000 to implement a project to restore the injury caused to sea birds other than loons. The trustees will acquire land, or a conservation easement, on an island off the coast of Maine to protect eider habitat from development and ensure that the area is monitored.
Piping Plover Restoration: The trustees will spend approximately $140,000 to protect piping plovers in Rhode Island. The trustees will hire a biologist during the piping plover nesting season to safeguard the birds' nests by building predator barriers and educating the public about the harm caused by human disturbances.
Fish Run Project: The trustees will spend approximately $160,000 to improve one or more anadromous fish run projects and compensate for lost recreational fishing. This project will involve removing or modifying existing obstructions to fish passages on rivers or brooks that connect to the salt ponds.
A notice of the settlement will appear in the Federal Register in about one week, triggering a 30-day public comment period on the document. Comments may be submitted to Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20530.
A copy of the consent decree can be obtained by mail from the Department of Justice Consent Decree Library, P.O. Box 7611, Washington, DC 20044. When requesting a copy, refer to United States and State of Rhode Island v. E.W. Holding Corp., DOJ No. 90-5-1-1-4337, and enclose a check in the amount of $18 (25 cents per page reproduction costs). A copy of the decree may be reviewed at the offices of the United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, 50 Kennedy Plaza, 8th Floor, Providence RI (contact Thomas Connell,(401-528-5477).