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Swire agrees to pay $17m for oil spill

The Pacific Adventurer passes the Sunshine Coast after repairs  to tanks that ruptured and spilled 27 tonnes of fuel into Moreton Bay.
The Pacific Adventurer passes the Sunshine Coast after repairs to tanks that ruptured and spilled 27 tonnes of fuel into Moreton Bay. Nicholas Falconer
THE shipping company responsible for Queensland's worst environmental disaster has agreed to pay $17 million in compensation.

Swire Shipping owns and operates the Hong Kong registered cargo ship, Pacific Adventurer, that spilled 270 tonnes of fuel into Moreton Bay when a falling container holed two of its fuel tanks during a March 11 storm whipped up by Cyclone Hamish.

The resulting oil slick washed up along the Sunshine Coast as well as Moreton and Bribie Islands causing a massive cleanup operation.

The ship also lost 31 containers of prilled ammonium nitrate fertiliser that have not been recovered.

The company agreed in the Brisbane Federal Court today to pay $16,891,198 plus interest into a court-administered compensation fund within two weeks. It also said it would contribute about $7.5 million to a trust fund for marine protection.



It succeeded in gaining an order to limit its liability under the 1988 Admiralty Act.

The order was not opposed by the State government which advised that private applicants will be given priority in accessing the fund.

Claimants will have until late November to make their applications and at least 18 businesses, organisation and individuals are expected to make a claim for compensation.

Justice John Dowsett said the resulting scramble for funds might end up "messy".

"(There may be) a fight between claimants on who will be heard first," he said.

"There's undoubtedly going to be a very large number of claimants."

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