To the relief of SAR French member organisation Surfrider Foundation Europe, France’s highest court has upheld the conviction of oil major Total in the case of the 1999 Erika oil spill.

In what was one of the worst oil spills ever to have taken place, some 20,000 metric tonnes were spilt into the sea when the oil tanker broke up during a storm off the northwest coast of France.

Thousands of birds died as a result of the oil spill and around 250 miles of coastline were damaged.

Total has paid a 375,000 Euro fine and nearly 400 million Euros to groups involved in the clean-up operation.

One of the positive developments in the aftermath of the disaster was the creation of the European Maritime and Safety Agency that has a responsibility for oil spill emergency response across European waters.

Surfrider Foundation Europe has been following the case since its inception and has been working to ensure that industry and decision makers in France and Europe put in place effective measures to prevent oil spills.


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