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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

IMC Shipping to pay Alaska over oil-spill case


Tuesday, 28 April 2009
The owner of a ship that ran aground off an Alaska island in 2004 has paid the state almost $1 million in the largest oil spill settlement since the Exxon Valdez accident 20 years ago, according to officials from the Alaska departments of Law and Environmental Conservation. Singapore-based IMC Shipping settled Alaska's claims for damage caused by the wreck of the company's Selendang Ayu, a 738-foot Malaysian-flagged freighter that split in two in December 2004 and disgorged its fuel into fish-rich waters.
The company paid $844,707 overall in oil-spill fines and associated penalties, Alaska officials said on Monday.
IMC Shipping had already paid more than $111 million in cleanup costs and other charges, including $9 million in federal criminal penalties assessed in 2007 and $2.5 million in cleanup-cost reimbursement to the state, officials said.
The spill was Alaska's biggest since the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989. The settlement was the largest struck by the state over an oil spill since Exxon Corp, now part of Exxon Mobil Corp, agreed in 1991 to pay Alaska and the U.S. government $900 million to settle civil claims after its 11 million gallon spill.
The Selendang Ayu ship, hauling 60,000 metric tons of soybeans from Washington state to China, drifted for two days without power over a storm-tossed Bering Sea. The broken ship poured 354,218 gallons of fuel and oil spilled into the ocean, fouling coastline and freshwater streams and forcing a commercial fishing closure.
Still pending against IMC Shipping are natural-resource damage claims to be filed by the state and federal government, Alaska officials said. A federal-state restoration team, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is still tallying damages to birds, marine mammals and other natural resources.
About 3,600 large cargo ships traverse through the Aleutian Islands each year along the Great Circle route, according to the Coast Guard. Environmentalists and fishermen are seeking greater cargo-ship regulation in the region, which contains ecologically sensitive areas and important commercial fishing grounds.

Source: Reuters