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Ship pilot faces environmental charges in San Francisco Bay oil spill

[JURIST] The US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California [official website] filed charges [PDF text; press release] on Monday against San Francisco Bay maritime pilot John Joseph Cota for allegedly causing the negligent discharge of approximately 58,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil in San Francisco Bay. Cota, who was piloting the M/V Cosco Busan on November 7, 2007 when it collided with the San Francisco Bay bridge, is accused of failing to pilot a collision free course; failing to adequately review navigational charts, the ship's navigational equipment, and the location of the Bay's aids to navigation with the ship's captain and crew prior to departure; failing to proceed at a safe speed during the voyage in limited visibility; and other acts of negligence. Cota is facing two counts under the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act [texts].

The US Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board [official websites] launched investigations [JURIST report] last November following the accident. A Coast Guard captain said that a preliminary investigation indicated that the ship collided with the Bay Bridge due to human error. AP has more.

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