Spain’s Supreme Court Upholds 1.6 Billion Euro Prestige Oil Spill Ruling

prestige tanker sinks
The bow of the Prestige oil tanker floats above water moments before sinking in waters off northwestern Spain in this November 19, 2002 file photo. REUTERS/Paul Hanna
The bow of the Prestige oil tanker floats above water moments before sinking in waters off northwestern Spain in this November 19, 2002 file photo. A Spanish court on November 13, 2013 found the crew and the government not guilty of responsibility in Spain’s Prestige disaster, a 2002 accident caused by a leaking tanker which coated the northwestern coastline with thousands of tonnes of oil. REUTERS/Paul Hanna (SPAIN – Tags: ENVIRONMENT DISASTER)

Spain’s Supreme Court upheld Thursday a lower court’s ruling that Spain is to be paid 1.6 billion euros in damages over the 2002 Prestige oil spill.

The definitive ruling confirms an earlier ruling handed down by a lower court in La Coruna, Galicia, where the oil spill occurred, in November 2017. France will also be awarded 61 million euros as its coastline was also impacted by the oil spill.

The bulk of the damages will be paid by Prestige’s insurer, the London P&I Clud, as well as Prestige’s captain.

The single-hulled oil tanker Prestige broke in half and sank off the northwestern coast of Spain after being denied a port of refuge after one of its tank was damaged in a storm.

The wreck is estimated to have spilled some 63,000 tonnes of oil, which severely impacted Spain’s Galicia coast and closed some of the country’s richest fisheries. The oil spill is considered one of Europe’s worst-ever environmental disasters.

Prestige’s captain, Apostolos Mangouras, was initially clear of criminal wrongdoing, but Spain’s Supreme Court in 2016 overruled and convicted Mangouras of recklessness resulting in catastrophic environmental damage. Mangouras was sentenced to two years in prison, and the ruling opened the door to damage claims against him and the insurer.