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Pollution and the environment

Environmental issues are always a critical consideration in any casualty.

Where oil cargoes enter the environment the Civil Liability and Fund Conventions will apply in most parts of the world, and in many jurisdiction s the Bunkers Convention will govern spills of bunker fuel.  These regimes involve strict (“no-fault”) liability and can apply where a casualty causes a threat of pollution, even if none actually occurs.

Compensation can be substantial and the implications for P & I Clubs may be profound, particularly where the costs and claims exceed the owners’ liability limit.

Environmental issues are always a critical consideration in any casualty.  At the outset, coastal authorities will usually require an early response to the threat of pollution from fuel oil. Stand-alone bunker removal contracts are now becoming the norm, often drawn up at short notice.

The international conventions relating to oil pollution give rise to complex legal issues for owners, and a spill will undoubtedly bring conflict with pressure groups and the press.  Not infrequently, charterers, especially oil majors, also find themselves under immense political and commercial pressure to respond.

The environmental implications of shipping go beyond oil spills and include tricky issues such as those which arise around:

  • dumping at sea
  • operational discharges
  • hazardous and noxious substances
  • emissions
  • ship and debris disposal
  • transboundary movement of waste
  • ballast water
  • charterparty clauses.

Indeed in one case one of our team dealt with a MARPOL violation involving the dumping of dead cattle.

We are very used to dealing with environmental issues. We work with other experts and renowned legal specialists in this field to provide a seamless and comprehensive response to an incident.  For further information on this subject from a specialist with whom we cooperate in this way see www.colindelarue.com.