• Kyodo


Agents of local governments, power companies and tourism and fisheries industries in prefectures on the Sea of Japan coast said Wednesday they will withdraw a damages suit filed over a massive oil spill in 1997.

The decision was made after an international maritime fund announced recently it would pay 26.1 billion yen in damages to the local governments, industries and other victims of the oil spill created by the Russian freighter Nakhodka in January 1997.

The London-based International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds calculated the sum after assessing compensation claims filed by local authorities, and tourism and fisheries industries, in 10 prefectures in Japan affected by the spill.

The fund will pay the money jointly with a British insurance group contracted with the Russian marine transportation company Prisco Traffic, which owned the Nakhodka.

Hiroki Okabe, a lawyer and an agent for the local governments, said, “The governments will withdraw the suit after confirming the deposit of payment. We consider it a comprehensive settlement of the damages, cause and liability for the accident.”

The fund has already paid 80 percent of the estimated damage and is expected to pay the remainder this summer.

The industries are expected to withdraw their suit around summer, when the payment is made.

Prisco Traffic and the insurance group had denied liability, blaming the accident on stormy weather.

The 13,157-ton tanker, carrying 20,000 kiloliters of fuel oil, broke up in the Sea of Japan off Shimane Prefecture on Jan. 2, 1997, causing up to 6,200 kiloliters of oil to wash up onto coastal areas.

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