Paying the price

Published: Tuesday 31 January 2006

Australia's highest environment penalty of more than us $1 million was recently imposed on a German shipping company for an oil spill in Phillip Island. The court found the ship was knowingly sailing with leaking oil tanks and structural problems, when it left Melbourne for Sydney on February 27, 2003.

The discharge affected about 12 km of coastline affecting 24 little penguins and killing three. The cleanup cost came close to us $600,000. The oil had also affected a cormorant, nine silver gulls and five endangered hooded plovers.

The ship, anl Pioneer's owner Reederi Suderelbe of gmbh and Co Schiffahrts kg (rss) pleaded guilty to three charges. The ship's German master, Erhard Heinz Schuschan, too pleaded guilty. He was convicted and fined us $20,000. The court ordered payment of us $260,000 to the Phillip Island Nature Parks and us $42,000 for installing compost toilets. Another fine of us $50,000 was also levied. Penalties of the remaining two charges were adjourned the company to pay US $28,000 to Victoria's surf livesavers, for oil cleanup.

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