Greenpeace slams Spanish judge over oil spill decision

22nd March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The environmental group Greenpeace Saturday condemned as "unacceptable" the decision by a Spanish judge to clear Spanish authorities of any responsibility in the 2002 Prestige oil spill.

MADRID - "It is unacceptable that the public authorities... were exonerated of all responsibility," the head of Greenpeace Spain, Mario Rodriguez, said in a statement.

The organisation accused Spanish authorities of having sparked Europe's worst oil spill by acting in an "erratic" manner and by preventing the ship from approaching the coast of the northwestern region of Galicia as it was in difficulties during a storm.

On 19 November 2002, the Liberian-flagged oil tanker broke up and sank off Galicia, a region famed for its pristine coastline and ecological diversity.

The ship spewed out 64,000 tonnes of thick, heavy fuel oil into the waters, polluting thousands of kilometres (miles) along the Atlantic coast of France, Spain and Portugal.

A judge in Galicia on Friday concluded her investigation into the disaster and upheld charges against three Greek crew members.

Spanish prosecutors argued the three obstructed attempts to steer the vessel away from the coast, heeding radio messages from the Prestige's Greek managers rather than instructions from Spanish authorities.

But the judge exonerated the director general of Spain's merchant marine service at the time, Jose Luis Lopez Sors, and Spanish authorities in general, ruling that the decision to prevent the ship from approaching the coast was "sensible and reasonable."

AFP / Expatica

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