The owners and operators of a ship responsible for Queensland's worst environmental disaster will pay nearly $17 million.
The owners and operators of a ship responsible for Queensland's worst environmental disaster will pay nearly $17 million into a court administered compensation fund. In March this year, the Pacific Adventurer spilled 270 tonnes of fuel after its fuel tanks were holed during a storm off the southeast coast.
Oil washed up along Moreton Island, Bribie Island and the southern Sunshine Coast.
In the Federal Court in Brisbane today, Swire Navigation Co Ltd and Bluewind Shipping Limited indicated they would pay $16,891,198 into the fund within two weeks.
The fund will be further boosted by interest which will be calculated back to March 18 this year.
The companies have also indicated they will pay about $7.5 million into a separate trust fund for the advancement of marine protection.
On March 11 this year, the Hong Kong registered ship Pacific Adventurer was seven nautical miles off Moreton Island when it was hit by a gale force storm.
It lost 31 containers of ammonium nitrate prills which sank to the bottom of the ocean.
Two of the ship's oil bunker tanks were holed by the containers and the ship lost 270 tonnes of fuel.
Swire and Bluewind successfully sought an order from Justice John Dowsett today limiting its liability under the Admirality Act 1988.
The order was not opposed by the State government which will be the main body seeking compensation for the oil spill.
A further 17 applicants including fishermen are listed as possible claimants.
It had been argued earlier that the limitation of liability did not apply because the spill and damage were caused by more than one act.
However, Peter Davis, SC, for the state government, said the order was not opposed because the companies were entitled to their limit on liability under law, and the discharge of oil and containers was one distinct occassion.
Mr Davis indicated private claimants against the court fund would be given priority.
It is understood any short fall in the state government's bill could be made up by a small Federal government levy on shipping.
Sandy Thompson, SC, for Swire, said the companies would now advertise in the Courier Mail and Australian newspaper alerting possible claimants to the fund.
He said it was anticpated the claimants would have until late November to make their applications.
Mr Thompson said it was likely a court would then determine the claims but many were unlikely to be controversial.
He pointed out the company had agreed to post date the court fund amo8unt to March and had the ampunt been calculated it would have been about $3 million less.