In court

Published: Monday 15 May 2006

high price: A French court has imposed the highest-ever marine pollution fine of about us $980,000 for a 61-km fuel slick, off the French coast, in 2005. The captain and the owner of the container ship Maersk Barcelon had deliberately discharged contaminated water into the sea, while it was passing the Breton coast in September last year. The slick, which contained much more hydrocarbon than the permitted 15 parts per million, was discovered by the French guards after several hours. Viktor Mykhaylov, the Ukrainian captain of the Bahama-registered vessel, will pay 10 per cent of the amount due, while the German owner V-Ships will cover the rest.

stop flaring: The high court of Benin city in Nigeria ruled that Shell Development Petroleum Corporation must stop gas flaring in Delta State by April 2007. The court asked Shell's managing director and the Nigerian minister for petroleum to appear before it on May 31, 2006, with a detailed plan to end gas flaring. In an earlier judgement in November, the court had ruled that gas flaring in the area violated people's right to life and dignity and thus should be stopped. Despite this, flaring in the region continued.

traffic out: Four environmental and river-rafting groups have sued the National Park Service of the us department of interior to stop helicopter flights and motorised rafting in the Grand Canyon National Park, something the service had recommended. It is the first lawsuit since the 80s to attack motorised rafting in the area. The group asked the park to be designated as a wilderness and to overhaul a recent decision that doubled river use for private boaters. Motorised rafts and helicopters in the canyon have long been a target because of the noise they create. The service itself has repeatedly felt that motorised rafting was not eco-friendly, the group said.

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