CAMAS, Wash. -- The man who owned a barge that leaked oil into the Columbia River was sentenced Monday to four months in prison, eight months of home detention and 100 hours of community service.
Fifty-three-year-old Bret Simpson of Ellensburg pleaded guilty to violating the federal Clean Water act when he began dismantling the “Davy Crockett” barge knowing it had oil on board. The barge was moored on the Columbia River near Camas, Washington. Prosecutors say when it started leaking in December of 2010, Simpson failed to notify authorities. The resulting clean-up cost $22 million and took months.
“This defendant’s singular focus on maximizing his profits, at the expense of even minimal environmental safeguards, cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “Mr. Simpson exhibited no regard for the likelihood that his misguided salvage efforts could, and in fact did, lead to an environmental emergency that was only partially averted by a massive federal and state response.”
EPA investigators say the jail sentence should serve as notice to irresponsible vessel owners.