New Zealand Oil Spill: Owners Of Grounded Ship Settle

In this photo taken Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, provided by Maritime New Zealand, an oil sheen flows from the cargo ship Rena which is almost completely submerged on a reef near Tauranga, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Maritime New Zealand)

In this photo taken Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, provided by Maritime New Zealand, an oil sheen flows from the cargo ship Rena which is almost completely submerged on a reef near Tauranga, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Maritime New Zealand)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A Greek shipping company has agreed to pay the New Zealand government up to $31.5 million toward the New Zealand oil spill cleanup costs of a cargo ship’s grounding on a reef near popular swimming and surfing beaches last year. But taxpayers will still be footing some of the bill.

The vessel Rena ran onto the Astrolabe reef near Tauranga on a calm night last October. The New Zealand oil spill released hundreds of tons of oil and killed thousands of sea birds in what authorities say was New Zealand’s worst maritime environmental disaster.

Daina Shipping, a subsidiary of Greek-based Costamare, along with its insurers agreed Tuesday to settle with New Zealand for $22.9 million for the New Zealand oil spill cleanup costs incurred so far and another $8.6 million if it doesn’t remove the pieces of the wreck that still sit on the reef.

The company has also spent an estimated $80 million on a separate salvage operation — removing oil, hundreds of shipping containers and some parts of the ship’s frame.

The New Zealand government says the disaster has cost it $38.9 million (NZ$47 million), meaning Tuesday’s settlement will leave it out of pocket at least $7.4 million, but that maritime laws limit Costamare’s financial liability.

“I think it’s a very good result given all of the circumstances,” said Keith Manch, the chief executive of Maritime New Zealand, the agency that oversees shipping in the country.

He said it isn’t ideal that taxpayers end up having to pay some of the costs. However, he said, Costamare had agreed to pay more than double the limit it was legally obliged to under New Zealand shipping laws enacted some 36 years ago….

AP  |  By 

Originally published on HuffingtonPost.com



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