French court upholds Erika disaster guilty verdict

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French court upholds Erika disaster guilty verdict

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France’s highest court has upheld the conviction of oil giant Total in the Erika disaster, which left Brittany’s beaches covered with oil, and polluted for a generation.

The decision maintains Total’s share of responsibility for the shipwreck, and asserts state’s rights to pursue maritime polluters outside territorial waters, but within their larger Exclusive Economic Zones.

There had been fears that if the court had overturned the decision it would have opened the floodgates for shipping companies to pollute with impunity outside of territorial waters.

The guilty verdict also stands for the ship’s Italian owner, operators, and the Italian agency responsible for granting seaworthiness certificates.