Environment: fine for a polluter

The owner of an Iltalian oil tanker, the San Matteo, has been sentenced for "illegal discharge" of hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean

The Marseille Criminal Court on Wednesday imposed a fine of 330.000 euros on the owner of the San Matteo and 10.000 euros on its captain.

The court also awarded 2.000 euros in damages to four associations which had brought civil proceedings.

A national Navy surveillance plane had seen a continuous trail of hydrocarbons 6,8 km long and 20 meters wide in the wake of the oil tanker San Matteo, 268 km south of Marseille and 241 km to the western Sardinia, in an area of ​​ecological protection.

At the request of the public prosecutor, the maritime prefect had the tanker diverted to Marseille, where it remained immobilized until the payment of a deposit of 300.000 euros.

Before the court, the captain of the ship armed by Petrolmar had reaffirmed that he was unable to explain this pollution, repeating only that the traces spotted by the Navy could come from the washing water from the deck of the tanker, which the sailors had just carried out. .

"We are always given the same dishes and the same tangled explanations", added the prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon, estimating that "the stories of washing the bridge are only a smokescreen" and stressing that the releases had ceased as soon as the overflight of the tanker by the military surveillance aircraft.

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