Total clean-up?

April 16, 2008

Companies involved in maritime accidents that lead to major oil spills can be liable under EU waste law for the environmental damage caused, according to a preliminary finding at the European Court of Justice.

The court is considering a case brought by a coastal town in Brittany that was badly affected by the Erika oil spill in 1999. In a preliminary judgement that has to be confirmed by the full court, the ECJ advocate general says the oil that escaped from the tanker can be classed as waste under the 1975 waste directive, so Total should have to pay for the clean-up, but only if the damage was caused intentionally or recklessly. Total was found guilty of recklessness in a French court earlier this year over the Erika case. • The Commission has proposed a tightening of its maritime pollution law, which would require member states to criminalise serious offenders. At present, legislation requires governments to impose penalties, but they have the choice whether such penalties are criminal in nature.

Related Articles

View All