U.S. Announces $4 Million Civil Penalty in Clean Water Act Suit
More Than 50,000 Barrels of Gasoline Discharged into the Arthur Kill Waterway in Staten Island Following Explosion of Barge Killing Two Workers
Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Rear Admiral Daniel Neptun, Commander of the First Coast Guard District, today announced the filing of a settlement agreement in a civil environmental lawsuit against Bouchard Transportation Company, Inc. (“Bouchard”) and the B. No. 125 Corporation for the illegal discharge of over 50,000 barrels of gasoline into the Arthur Kill Waterway, in Staten Island, New York. Pursuant to the Stipulation and Order of Settlement, which is subject to court approval, the defendants will pay a $4,000,000 civil penalty – the largest civil penalty ever collected by the Coast Guard in a federal Clean Water Act case. The civil penalty will be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and used, among other things, to clean up future oil spills and to fund other government expenses related to oil pollution.
According to the government’s civil complaint, on February 21, 2003, over 50,000 barrels of gasoline were discharged into the Arthur Kill Waterway as a result of a catastrophic explosion and fire on the B-125 barge, which was operated by Bouchard and owned by the B. No. 125 Corporation. The explosion and fire occurred while the barge was in the process of unloading a cargo of gasoline at the ExxonMobil Port Mobil Facility in Staten Island. Two Bouchard employees were killed in the fire, and an ExxonMobil employee suffered severe burns and injuries.
“This significant civil penalty underscores our continuing commitment to enforcing the Clean Water Act against those who threaten to harm the environment,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.
“The Coast Guard works with federal, state, and local agency partners, as well as maritime industry partners, to implement appropriate preventive measures to protect the marine environment,” stated Rear Admiral Neptun. “When companies discharge oil and other hazardous substances into U. S. waters and the environment, we will aggressively pursue appropriate enforcement action, including prosecuting violators under the Clean Water Act. The Coast Guard and partner agencies will continue to hold polluters accountable for their actions by strictly enforcing this nation’s environmental laws.”
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tiana A. Demas, with assistance from Lieutenant Commander Timothy Pavilonis of the United States Coast Guard.
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