Owner of derelict barge Davy Crockett pleads guilty

first_imgThe owner of a derelict barge that buckled and leaked oil into the Columbia River has pleaded guilty to two criminal violations of the Clean Water Act.Bret A. Simpson entered his plea Thursday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. He admitted to unlawfully spilling oil into the Columbia River near Camas, and failing to report that spill to authorities. Simpson now faces possible prison time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines as a result of his botched attempt to scrap the 430-foot vessel Davy Crockett.Simpson’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 14.The failure to report the offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to Simpson’s plea agreement. The illegal spill could carry a penalty of up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.Simpson purchased the Davy Crockett in 2010, and federal prosecutors allege he then began to scrap the barge without first removing thousands of gallons of oil and fuel he knew was on board. The converted World War II Liberty Ship broke apart in December 2010, releasing oil into the river where it lay near Camas. Simpson halted the scrapping operation, but never reported the incident to authorities.Additional oil spilled into the river in January 2011, which authorities traced back to the Davy Crockett. That’s when the U.S. Coast Guard stepped in to orchestrate a massive cleanup that spanned 10 months and cost close to $22 million.last_img read more