A Paris appeals court has upheld a ruling against energy giant Total for a disastrous oil spill off the western coast of France 11 years ago.
The French firm was disputing a guilty verdict that found it responsible for the sinking of the ship Erika in 1999. The ageing tanker it had chartered broke apart in a storm off Brittany.
A massive 20,000 tonnes of oil gushed out covering an estimated 400 kilometres of coastline..
Only two years ago Total was ordered to pay nearly 200 million euros in compensation. But it appealed, arguing that it was failings by the Italian ship’s owners that allowed the Erika to be given a clean bill off health.
The cost to Brittany’s eco-system was huge. Thousands of birds and marine animals perished.
The decision is expected to have important legal implications for the global oil industry and its responsibility to the environment.