TOKYO: Liability for damages is one of focal points after more than 1,000 tons of fuel oil spilled from the Japanese-owned bulk carrier Wakashio off Mauritius.
Concerns are growing over the impact of the oil spill on the rich natural environment in the Indian Ocean island country, whose main industry is tourism, while work to remove the oil is underway.
So far, about 1,020 tons of fuel oil stored in the ship and some 460 tons spilled into the ocean have been collected. Some 1,600 tons of fuel oil and about 200 tons of gas oil remain on the ship.
The vessel, owned by Nagashiki Shipping Co., based in Kasaoka, Okayama Prefecture, western Japan, and chartered by Japanese shipping firm Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., ran aground off Mauritius on July 25. The oil spill was confirmed Thursday.
A crack on the ship is growing bigger, raising fears that it may break up and sink or part of it may drift away and damage other areas. Currently, the ship is tied up to a tugboat to prevent it from drifting away.
The oil spill will have a devastating impact on the marine ecosystem there, likely damaging corals and wild birds in a sanctuary.
Nagashiki Shipping will bear the liability for damages as it owns the ship, while Mitsui O.S.K. Lines will be exempted from the responsibility.
Two treaties regarding marine accidents require ship owners to purchase a public liability policy, while setting a limit on the amount of damages a ship owner pays.
With the insurance policy Nagashiki Shipping holds, the company is expected to be asked to pay up to one billion dollars, or some 100 billion yen, over the oil spill. There is no limit on costs the company has to pay to remove the vessel.
The amount of damages may be limited to about 2 billion yen based on the treaties. But Nagashiki Shipping may have to pay more if its serious faults are found, according to a nonlife insurance industry official.
Nagasaki Shipping may have to pay compensation for damage to wildlife as well as people in the fishing and tourism industries. It is likely to take time to determine the total amount of damages.