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Korean barge crew sent to jail for nation's worst oil spill

Korean barge crew sent to jail for nation's worst oil spill

Seoul: Three Korean nationals were given the maximum sentence for oil pollution Monday. The three were operating a crane barge which broke free from its moorings and smashed into a single hull tanker lying offshore. They will now spend the next three years in jail.

However, Hong Kong-based Hebei Spirit Shipping and the Master, Captain Jasprit Singh Chawla, and 1st Officer, Syam Chetan on board the 269,605dwt Hebei Spirit during its collision with a barge on December 7, thereby spilling about 10,900 tonnes of crude oil, have been found innocent of all charges of violating the ocean pollution law.

In a judgment handed down on Monday at a branch of the Daejeon District Court in the city of Seosan, on South Korea's west coast, the court  ruled that there was insufficient reason for the Master to have pulled up the anchor and moved the ship, at the approach of the Samsung Barge.

"We would like to express our utmost sympathy to all those whose livelihoods were affected by the tragic events that took place and deeply regret the environmental damage that resulted," said Bob Bishop, chief executive of V.Ships Shipmanagement, the managers of the Hebei Spirit. "We would also like to congratulate and thank the Korean courts on their fair and just interpretation of the facts as presented and their unbiased and independent judgement.