Derelict barge owner pleads guilty to 2 offenses

TACOMA — The owner of a derelict barge left in the Columbia River near Camas has pleaded guilty to two criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

Bret Simpson pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Tacoma to failing to report a discharge of oil and unlawfully discharging oil into the Columbia.

The Coast Guard spent eight months and about $20 million in a federally funded cleanup. The barge called the Davy Crockett was a 431-foot-long converted World War II-era ship.

The barge partially sank in January 2011. The vessel buckled due to structural instability. The last section of the barge was lifted from the water in late August 2011.

Sentencing for Simpson was set for Oct. 14. The failure to report offense is punishable by a maximum five-year prison term while the unlawful discharge offense carries a maximum year in prison.

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