The Russian tanker Nakhodka, which broke apart and sank off the Sea of Japan coast in January, was too old and worn out to weather the rough seas, a Transport Ministry panel concluded July 31.

The panel’s report brushed aside Russia’s argument that the 13,157-ton tanker, which spilled at least 5,000 kiloliters of heavy oil and caused massive environmental damage on a wide coastal stretch, sank after hitting a submerged object. The ministry panel, led by Hideomi Otsubo, professor of engineering at Tokyo University, briefed Transport Minister Makoto Koga on the final result of its six-month investigation on the accident, which occurred off Shimane Prefecture on Jan. 2.

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