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California in Brief | SAN FRANCISCO

Ship's pilot faces charges in oil spill

December 07, 2007|Eric Bailey

Disciplinary charges were filed Thursday against the pilot of a container ship that spilled oil into San Francisco Bay last month.

The Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun accused Capt. John Cota of allowing the Cosco Busan to travel too fast in foggy conditions without sufficient information.

He also was accused of failing to make use of a tugboat tethered to the ship's stern and ignoring warnings from the Coast Guard and the ship's lookout to change course.

Cota could be stripped of his license to command ships in the bay if he is found guilty. He was at the helm of the Cosco Busan on Nov. 7 when the ship sideswiped the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and leaked 58,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel oil. Cota's license has been suspended until a hearing that could take place as soon as January.

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Eric Bailey

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