French court upholds Total liability in oil spill

French appeals court upholds responsibility of Total in France's worst-ever oil spill

Associated Press

PARIS (AP) -- France's highest appeals court has upheld a ruling that found petroleum company Total SA criminally responsible for a 1999 oil spill that blackened much of France's Atlantic coastline.

Upholding the 2010 ruling, the court blamed Total for "maritime pollution" on Tuesday and ordered it to pay a euro375,000 fine after it shipped fuel in a rusty tanker that broke apart in rough seas and caused France's worst oil spill, the Sipa news agency says.

Contrary to that lower court's ruling, however, the court said Total was also responsible on a civil level — a symbolic victory for the plaintiffs as Total has already paid euro171.5 million to civil parties.

France's Bureau of Inquiries into Sea Accidents blamed l+ack of maintenance on the tanker as the main causes of the spill.

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