Mate Charged in Buzzards Bay Oil Spill

Friday, April 29, 2005
A Jacksonville, Florida man was charged today in federal court with one count of violating the Clean Water Act and one count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Thomas V. Skinner, Acting Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance; William Schenkelberg, Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; and Thomas J. Healy, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement, announced today that FRANKLIN ROBERT HILL, age 53, of Jacksonville, Florida, was charged in an Information with one count of violating the Clean Water Act and one count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in connection with his role in the April 27, 2003 oil spill in Buzzards Bay.

The Information alleges that on April 27, 2003, HILL was the mate of the tug boat Evening Tide which was pulling the barge B-120 en route from Philadelphia to Sandwich, Massachusetts. The barge was carrying over 4.1 million gallons of Number 6 fuel oil, a thick, viscous oil used in power plants. All navigational, communications, and steering systems aboard the Evening Tide were in proper working order.

Navigational charts identifying all hazards in the area, which are published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were on-board the Evening Tide in paper and electronic form. The weather in Buzzards Bay on the afternoon of April 27, 2003 was bright and clear, with seas running three to five feet.

According to the Information, on the afternoon of April 27, 2003, HILL was at the helm of the Evening Tide and was the person responsible for navigating and piloting the tugboat and barge during these hours. According to the Information, HILL allowed the boat to drift off course and towards the rocks when he left the wheelhouse for an extended period of time to work at the stern of the tugboat. In leaving the wheelhouse unoccupied, HILL violated the Evening Tide's "Watch Standing Orders" which stated that the Mate or Captain shall, "never leave the bridge unattended while underway." The Information also alleged that HILL did not monitor radio communications. As a result, HILL missed efforts by a vessel traveling behind the tugboat to warn HILL that his boat was heading out of the clearly marked Buzzards Bay Channel.

According to the Information, as a direct result of HILL's negligence, the Evening Tide veered off course as it neared the first green buoy marking the beginning of Buzzards Bay channel. The entrance to the channel is approximately a mile wide. The Evening Tide and the barge traveled to the west of the buoy, striking a rock cropping that was clearly marked on the Evening Tide's nautical charts. The impact from the collision ripped a twelve foot hole in the bottom of the barge, rupturing one of the barge's ten separate tanks, from which approximately 98,000 gallons of oil spilled out. The oil soiled over 90 miles of shoreline in Southeastern Massachusetts and resulted in the deaths of an unknown number of protected birds.

If convicted on these charges, HILL faces up to 1 year in prison on the Clean Water Act charge and 6 months in prison on Migratory Bird Treaty Act charge, to be followed by 1 year of supervised release, and a fine.

On November 18, 2004, HILL's former employer, Bouchard Transportation Company ("BTC"), pleaded guilty to an Information charging it with one count of violating the Clean Water Act and one count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. BTC was ordered to pay a fine of $10 million, the largest fine ever in an oil spill case in New England. At the urging of the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Court directed that $7 million of the fine be used for wetland conservation projects in Southeastern Massachusetts.

The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Mitchell in Sullivan's Economic Crimes Unit; Peter Kenyon, EPA Senior Criminal Enforcement Attorney; and Commander Steven Stancliff, District Legal Advisor, U.S. Coast Guard.

Maritime Reporter May 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Legal

Myanmar Finds 200 Bangladeshis in Offshore Boat

Myanmar's navy found a boat carrying more than 200 Bangladeshis, the government said on Friday, after the military chief said some migrants landing in Malaysia

Two ASC Kalmar Cranes for DP World Brisbane

Kalmar, part of Cargotec, has received an order from DP World Australia to deliver two new Kalmar automatic stacking cranes (ASCs) for its semi-automated terminal in Brisbane.

DP World Extends Title Sponsorship Until 2020

Dubai is set to remain at the epicenter of golf on The European Tour for the foreseeable future after global port operator DP World announced today that it will

Environmental

Torqeedo Introduces New Deep Blue Inboard

Torqeedo now offers a shaft drive version of its 40 and 80 horsepower Deep Blue motor. An electric drive designed for marine use from the ground up, the Deep Blue inboard shares the safety,

SoCal Beach Cleanup Could Take Months

The U.S. Coast Guard captain overseeing cleanup of oil spilled from a pipeline rupture that closed two California state beaches and fouled offshore waters near

DP World Extends Title Sponsorship Until 2020

Dubai is set to remain at the epicenter of golf on The European Tour for the foreseeable future after global port operator DP World announced today that it will

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1473 sec (7 req/sec)