British insurer faces $1B fine for Prestige oil spill

A Spanish court ruled British insurer the London Steam-Ship Owners' Mutual Insurance Association should pay a $1 billion fine for its role in the 2002 Prestige oil spill. Photo by Torrecilla/EPA

Nov. 16 (UPI) — A Spanish court ruled a British insurer should pay a $1 billion fine for its role in the 2002 Prestige oil spill.

The court Wednesday awarded Spain $1.9 billion in damages for the oil spill while also granting $2.1 billion in compensation to the region of Galicia and $72 million to France.

The spill, regarded as one of Europe’s most devastating environmental disasters, occurred in 2002 when the Prestige oil tanker sank off the coast of Spain and split in half, polluting thousands of miles of beach and severely damaging wildlife and the fishing industry.

The ship spilled more than 60,000 tons of oil and more than 22,000 dead birds were found in the immediate aftermath.

The London Steam-Ship Owners’ Mutual Insurance Association, also known as the London Club, insured the Prestige and will be required to pay up to $1 billion and the ship’s Greek captain will face a similar fine.

Mare Shipping, the ship’s owner and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds, will pay the remainder.

A spokesman for the London Club said the firm was aware of the ruling and “remains concerned at the direction that the Spanish court has taken generally.”

“There are several complicated and outstanding legal issues that need to be addressed,” he said.


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