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DARRP Team Members Receive Award for Work on Cosco Busan Oil Spill Settlement
Cargo ship in San Francisco Bay with Bay Bridge.
The Cosco Busan leaves San Francisco Bay on Dec. 20, 2007, after hitting the Bay Bridge on Nov. 7. (U.S. Coast Guard)

MAY 16, 2014 -- In early May at the Department of the Interior's Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) meeting in Phoenix, three NOAA Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program (DARRP) team members, Greg Baker, Natalie Cosentino-Manning, and Chris Plaisted, were lauded along with representatives from multiple federal and state agencies as part of a larger team that successfully completed the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) for the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill in the San Francisco Bay and central coast of California and have been implementing restoration following settlement of this case.

The spill precipitated widespread beach closures, recreational and commercial fishery closures, and cancellation of many activities associated with use of Bay waters. The NRDA trustees, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and the legal team including the Department of Interior’s Office of the Solicitor and U.S. Department of Justice, quickly sprung to action for both response and NRDA.  This group led the effort to complete the damage assessment, settlement negotiations, and restoration planning in a highly efficient and timely manner.

In early 2010, a little more than two years after the spill, the trustees had completed the assessment and settlement negotiations with the responsible parties. By early 2012, after the completion of the complicated criminal and ancillary civil proceedings, the Consent Decree was entered and the trustees issued a final restoration plan. Through seamless teamwork among the trustee agency staff and dedication to the goals of NRDA, the trustees recovered the largest natural resource damages amount ($44 million total) in history under the Oil Pollution Act.

Almost immediately after completion of the restoration plan and consent decree in 2012, the Trustees began directing settlement funds toward restoration efforts.  To date, $12 million has been allocated to projects due to the hard work of these dedicated individuals who have worked tirelessly since the date of the spill in 2007 and have put the resources and teamwork above all else to accomplish natural resource restoration.

Success on a case like this takes hard work from a cast of many, and there are numerous others from the DARRP ranks who helped make this a strong and successful claim and who should take pride in their own personal contributions to this success story. Greg, Natalie, and Chris stand out for their leadership and tireless efforts from start to finish. They provided the face of NOAA as part of the inter-disciplinary and inter-agency team that did an exceptional job of completing the damage assessment, negotiating a settlement with the responsible parties, and planning and implementing restoration in record-breaking time.

For more information, contact Rob Ricker.

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