U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said Bouchard Transportation Co. pleaded guilty to charges that it violated the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in its part of the April 27, 2003, oil spill.
Bouchard Transportation Chief Executive Officer Morton Bouchard also issued a public apology, the Boston Globe reported.
A barge towed by the tugboat Evening Tide, owned by Bouchard, hit submerged rocks that tore a 12-foot hole in the barge. Thousands of gallons of oil leaked from the barge, killing at least 450 birds and contaminating about 90 miles of shoreline, the Globe reported Tuesday.
It was the worst oil spill in the southern Massachusetts bay since 1969.
Sullivan said the criminal investigation in the oil spill was not complete and there still could be indictments of individuals. A total of $7 million of the Bouchard fine will be deposited in a conservation fund and $2 million will go to an oil spill liability trust. The other $1 million will be suspended unless Bouchard Transportation fails to meet certain conditions to assure another spill doesn't happen.
The Globe said the fine was the largest for an oil spill in New England.