CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / SAN FRANCISCO

The operator of a tanker that spilled 53,000 gallons of fuel oil into San Francisco Bay in 2007 pleaded guilty Thursday to two criminal charges and agreed to pay a $10-million fine, federal officials said.

Hong Kong-based Fleet Management Ltd. pleaded guilty to violating the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The company also pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice and false statement charges in the spill's aftermath.

The Cosco Busan sideswiped the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in dense fog on Nov. 7, 2007. The incident fouled 26 miles of shoreline and delayed the start of the crab season.

At least 2,000 migratory birds died in the spill, including brown pelicans, a federally endangered species, and marbled murrelets, which are on California's endangered species list.

Fleet's attorney, Marc Greenberg, declined to comment on Thursday's plea because it has yet to be accepted by the court. Two earlier pleas were turned down. A hearing is set for Dec. 11.

In March, the ship's pilot pleaded guilty to two counts of breaking federal environmental laws and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

-- Maria LaGanga

For The Record Los Angeles Times Thursday, September 03, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction Oil spill: A news brief that ran Aug. 14 in Section A on a 2007 fuel oil spill in San Francisco Bay referred to the Cosco Busan as an oil tanker. It is a container ship.
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