Enforcement and Assistance in New England
In April 2003, approximately 98,000 gallons of oil contaminated over 90 miles of pristine shoreline in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. The spill killed at least 450 federally protected birds and closed thousands of acres of shellfish beds, putting many fishermen out of work for weeks. Some of the shellfish beds still remain closed, over two-and-a-half years later. The spill also crippled local tourism and recreational activities. The clean-up of the spill cost more than $40 million.
In November of 2004, the Bouchard Company pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The company was fined $10 million, the largest fine ever in an oil spill case in New England. A significant portion of the fine, $7 million, will be used for eligible wetlands conservation projects in the Buzzards Bay watershed, which is located in southeastern Massachusetts. A smaller portion of the fine, $2 million, will be paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and the remaining $1 million will be suspended if the company successfully establishes the environmental program ordered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The company was also ordered to comply with remedial measures to prevent oil spills.
In May of 2005, Franklin Robert Hill, the first mate on the tugboat, also pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. He was sentenced to five months incarceration in federal prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release. Hill was the person responsible for navigating and piloting the tugboat and barge. He allowed the boat to drift off course towards the rocks when he left the wheelhouse for an extended period of time.
For further information on environmental crimes, visit EPA's Criminal Enforcement Program.