A Corpus Christi Fire Department vessel attempts to extinguish a fire onboard a Bouchard Transportation barge approximately three miles from the Port Aransas, Texas, jetties Oct. 20, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Bouchard Transportation Seeking Buyer to Avoid Closure, Layoffs

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 5997
June 11, 2021

New York-based barge operator Bouchard Transportation may need to close its facilities and lay off as many 108 workers if it is unable to find a buyer for the company or its assets.

Bouchard has been in debtor-in-possession financing since entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in September which has allowed it to continue operations.

But according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification posted this week on the New York State Department of Labor website, Bouchard is currently in the process of seeking a purchaser for “Bouchard or its assets or its assets”. If no buyer is found, it may need to start employee layoffs at its Melville, New York “facility” beginning July 15 continuing through August 15, the filing said.

“If the company closes the facility, it is expected that the majority of (or all) employees located at the facility will be permanently terminated,” according to the filing.

The development is the latest in an ongoing saga involving Bouchard dating back to a deadly barge explosion off Port Aransas, Texas in 2017 which killed two people. Investigations into the accident called into question Bouchard’s safety culture and kicked off years of legal, financial, and Coast Guard regulatory compliance issues that seemed to come to a head early in 2020 when its document of compliance was lifted by the Coast Guard, leaving crews stranded across the country.

Although Bouchard was eventually able to process back pay for its workers and obtain a temporary DOC, problems lingered and the Bouchard eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in September. A U.S. bankruptcy judge earlier this year ordered the immediate removal of the company’s long-time CEO, Morton Bouchard, assigning a new Chief Restructuring Officer.

Bouchard Transportation is an independently-owned petroleum tug and barge company established in 1918 and based in Melville, New York. Morton ‘Morty’ Bouchard took the helm of the company in 1992, becoming the fourth-generation of Bouchards to run the business. According to its website, the company operates 26 tugs and 25 tank barges across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The majority are double-hulled articulated tug and barge units (ATBs).

In April, Bouchard and three current or former officials, including Morton Bouchard, were ordered to pay $375,000 in restitution to a whistleblower, who happened to be the brother of one of the explosion victims and also worked of Bouchard at the time, after he cooperated in the federal investigation into the 2017 accident.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice listed Matthew D. Ray as the Chief Restructuring Officer.

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