United States Files Civil Suit Against Bouchard Transportation Company for Discharge of 56,000 Barrels of Gasoline into the the Arthur Kill Waterway in Staten Island
The United States filed a civil environmental complaint today against BOUCHARD TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, INC. (“BOUCHARD”) and the B NO. 125 CORPORATION. The complaint was brought under the Clean Water Act, as amended by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which Congress passed to hold parties liable for illegal discharges of oil and hazardous substances into the nation’s waters.
The filing of the suit was announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Patrick Montgomery, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Coast Guard, First District.
According to the government’s civil complaint, on February 21, 2003, approximately 56,000 barrels – or 2,352,000 gallons – of gasoline were discharged into the Arthur Kill Waterway in Staten Island, New York, from a barge operated by BOUCHARD and owned by the B NO. 125 CORPORATION. The discharge occurred during a catastrophic explosion and fire that began while the barge was in the process of unloading a cargo of gasoline at the ExxonMobil Port Mobil Facility in Staten Island. Two crew members were killed in the fire, and a Port Mobil employee suffered severe burns and injuries.
Under the Clean Water Act, the owner and/or operator of a vessel from which oil is discharged is strictly liable for a civil penalty of up to $27,500 per day of violation, or $1,100 per barrel of oil discharged. Under the Act, the amounts that the United States receives are deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is used, among other things, to clean up future oil spills.
“Shipping companies that spill large quantities of gasoline into the environment and navigable waters must be penalized and made to contribute to the cost of future clean ups,” said United States Attorney Campbell. “Enforcing the laws enacted to protect the environment for our residents and future generations is a priority of this office.”
“The discharge of oil into our waterway is a serious matter,” explained Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer Montgomery. “The Clean Water Act exists to maintain the integrity of our nation’s waters.”
The government’s case is being litigated by Assistant United States Attorney Tiana A. Demas and Lieutenant Commander Timothy Pavilonis of the United States Coast Guard.
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