Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


Singapore Shipping Firm Fined $15m For Alaska Spill

Ansley Ng
Aug 24 2007 (TODAY)

AN American court has ordered a Singapore shipping firm to pay a
US$10-million ($15.2-million) penalty for an oil spill, after one of its
ships ran aground near an Alaskan wildlife haven, killing thousands of
migratory birds and sparking a US$100-million cleanup.

The Malaysian-flagged tanker Selendang Ayu, owned by IMC Shipping, ran
aground and sank near Unalaska Island, off the south-western coast of
Alaska on Dec 8, 2004.

IMC Shipping is the shipping arm of Singapore-based IMC Group, which also
has business in property and natural resources development.

IMC spokesman James Lawrence told Today that the company paid the US$100
million for the cleanup, which went on for "more than two summers". It was
completed in June last year with the help of several companies and
government agencies, as well as the community.

On Wednesday, the United States Justice Department said that the company,
one of the world's largest privately held shipping groups, would pay the
US$10 million criminal fine, of which US$3 million would be for community
service in the polluted area, while US$1 million would be used to help the
wildlife haven.

The company pleaded guilty to two charges under the Refuse Act and one
under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The fine was the result of a plea agreement with the Justice Department.
IMC still faces a civil lawsuit by the state of Alaska and the US federal

"IMC has worked closely and fully cooperated with the relevant
authorities, including the US National Trans-portation Safety Board,
during their investigations," Mr Lawrence said.

The Selendang Ayu was en route from Seattle, US, to the Chinese port city
of Xiamen, transiting the Bering Sea when its engine failed.

After drifting for three days, it ran aground under severe weather and
sank near Unalaska Island.

Thousands of metric tonnes of soybeans and 1.3 million litres of bunker
oil spilled into the sea. Also, six of the 26-member ship crew were killed
when a US Coast Guard helicopter crashed during a rescue attempt. More
than 1,600 birds and six sea otters were found dead after the spill.

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