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Swire establishes 'dialogue' for clean up costs negotiation

Swire establishes 'dialogue' for clean up costs negotiation

Sydney: Swire Shipping has begun talks with Australian Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to negotiate its liability for clean up costs arising from the incident involving its vessel Pacific Adventurer in March. This latest set of talks comes as Queensland Premier Anna Bligh rejected Swire's offer for financial compensation for environmental damage caused by the 270 tonnes of fuel oil spilled during the incident. Ms Bligh has threatened the company with a country-wide ban unless it meets its financial responsibilities.

Although local media report Albanese as having labelled the meeting "constructive", he has stated the two parties are yet to agree to a final amount. Clean up costs are currently estimated to be in the region of $31m.

Swire claimed the offer presented to Ms Bligh was "substantially above the $14.5 million limit of liability that applies to the Pacific Adventurer oil spill, and in addition to the $2 million it has already spent itself in assisting the clean up."

It added, "Swire Shipping's proposal considerably exceeds the company's obligation under Australian and international limitation of liability legislation, which governs the amount to be paid in shipping accidents, whether the company is at fault or not. At the same time this system sets an upper limit to a shipowner's liability for third party claims arising out of a shipping incident, helping keep insurance costs at reasonable levels. Australians have benefited significantly from this system for nearly 50 years through lower prices for shipped goods and rapid payments of oil spill clean up costs up to the level of limitation."

"While Swire Shipping has offered to pay a significant contribution, the company will not accept unlimited liability that could undermine the internationally accepted Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims."  [28/07/09]