Gironde, France

11/11/08

Maritime Pollution OF 18 KM LONG AND 50M WIDE by A LIBERIAN SHIP, THE VALENTIA

SUMMARY OF THE SITUATION

On the 11th of November 2008, a customs airplane detected the outlines of hydrocarbon pollution measuring 18km in length and 50m in width, in the wake of the roll on/roll off ship Valentia, which sailed under Liberian flag off the coast of the Gironde Department.


THE DEFENDERS

Surfrider Foundation Europe has filed a civil suit to ensure that this pollution will be punished. These actions are in line with the status of the association, which aims to protect and enhance the oceans, waves and coastline.

LEGAL CONTEXT

On the 6th of May 2009, the specialised tribunal in Brest rightly sentenced the vessel to a record deterrent fine of 2 million Euros, 95% of which were to be settled by the ship's owner. The polluting vessel displayed a textbook array of offences, including an astonishing amount of malfunctions, which were pointed out by the Ship Safety Centre of Finistère Nord, a proven lack of engine room maintenance, which was stained with oil, and an unmatched dishonesty displayed by the crew members. There was no doubt that the discharge had been intentional.

Yet, despite the indisputable evidence regarding the deliberate character of the pollution, the Court of Appeal in Rennes showed a deplorable and stupefying leniency in its judgement from the 30th of June 2011. It reversed the judgement in the first instance and drastically reduced the fine against the owner to 800,000 Euros instead of the 2 million Euros previously set. Surfrider Foundation Europe has therefore brought the case before the Court of Cassation. The verdict is expected on the 18th of June 2013, and we will communicate the outcome shortly.


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