Final Restoration Plan Completed for Cosco Busan Oil Spill; Projects will Address Impacts from Ship that Struck the Bay Bridge.
State and federal trustee agencies have released the Cosco Busan Oil Spill Final Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan. The document summarizes the injuries to wildlife, habitat, and recreational uses from the oil spill that occurred on Nov. 7, 2007. It also describes a number of restoration projects that will be implemented to compensate for injuries from the spill. In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act, the public commented on a draft version of the Restoration Plan in fall 2011. Since that time, the federal and state government trustee agencies have considered the comments, revised the plan, and finalized it, paving the way to begin implementation of the projects.
While a legal settlement was announced in September, 2011, the case formally closed on Jan. 27, 2012, when Federal District Court Judge Samuel Conti entered the consent decree regarding the settlement. Changes between the draft and final Restoration Plans were minor, primarily serving to include more restoration project options and to allow greater flexibility in the use of the funds. The trustees, including the California Department of Fish and Game, California State Lands Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management, estimate that the spill killed 6,849 birds, impacted 14 to 29 percent of the herring spawn that winter, oiled 3,367 acres of shoreline habitat, and resulted in the loss of over 1 million recreational user-days.
The plan details how $32.3 million will be spent on a variety of restoration projects. About $5 million is set aside for bird restoration, $4 million for habitat restoration, $2.5 million for fish and habitat (eelgrass) restoration, and $18.8 million for recreational use improvements. An additional $2 million will fund restoration planning, administration and oversight, with any unused funds to be spent toward more restoration. The trustees anticipate beginning to fund projects this spring. The restoration projects include:
- Marsh, beach and mudflat habitat improvements at Muir Beach, Albany Beach, Aramburu Island, and South Bay Salt Ponds;
- Creation and improvement of bird roosting and nesting habitat at Berkeley Pier, Tule Lake, Farallon Islands and South Bay Salt Ponds;
- Eelgrass, and native oyster bed and rockweed restoration at multiple sites around the Bay; and
- Recreational use improvements throughout the spill area.
The National Fisheries and Wildlife Foundation, through the Office of Spill Prevention and Response and the State Lands Commission will solicit proposals in the near future for recreational use projects. This process will ensure that recreational beach users will have an opportunity to be compensated for lost use caused by the oil spill. Copies of the Final Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan are available at www.dfg.ca.gov/ospr/Science/cosco_busan_spill.aspx or by contacting Steve Hampton at (916) 323-4724 or firstname.lastname@example.org.