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Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage

Series:

Malika Gunasekera

This book deals with the liability conventions brought into existence by the International Maritime Organization and concentrates on the newly adopted instrument dealing with bunker oil pollution as an area of great concern for every stakeholder involved in shipping business. The work covers a wide spectrum ranging from the Convention itself to its scope of application, liable and aggrieved parties, jurisdiction, requirements of liability and admissibility of claims, defences and exoneration from liability. It addresses many areas of interest and of importance to international and national legal advisors, lawyers, law students and anyone interested in the relevant field such as shipowners, charterers, shipbrokers, ship personnel and associated contractors and sub-contractors.

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Introduction 19

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19 Introduction In 1995 the waters of the sea off the coast of Tasmania experienced one of the most disastrous effects of bunker oil spill.1 The Iron Baron, bulk carrier which ran aground spilling three hundred tonnes of bunker fuel oil2 affecting fifteen kilometres of shoreline and large number of living and non-living resources of the nature set a huge response cost of ten million Australian Dollars.3 This dra- matic incident opened up the eyes of the Government of Australia and especially the international legislators dealing with liability and compensation for maritime pollution, in taking prompt initiatives to fill the gap that existed in international maritime law aftermath the entry-into-force of the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 19924. Subsequently, two years later, a fuel tank of the Kure5, wood chip carrier broke out in Humboldt Bay, California spilling one hundred and five barrels of bunker fuel oil costing a total of twenty million US Dollars, marking a record for the most expensive oil spill ever in terms of dollars per barrel.6 These incidents are only a few to name among mas- sive bunker spills that have occurred in different parts of the oceans and seas up to this date. Comparing to oil spills from tankers that have taken centre stage in national and international contexts, one might consider oil spills resulting from the escape or discharge of fuel oil from the bunkers7 of dry cargo ships as a negligible event.8 Although, it is reasonable to ascertain,...

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