Processing Magazine

ConocoPhillips to Pay $588,000 to Settle Spill Claim

March 16, 2010

A subsidiary of ConocoPhillips Co. has agreed to pay $588,000 to help compensate the public for environmental harm caused by a crude oil spill that marred 21 miles of Puget Sound shoreline near Tacoma, the Washington Department of Ecology. According to the Associated Press, the proposed settlement by Polar Tankers Inc. will be filed this week in U.S. District Court, ecology officials said. A consent degree in federal court makes no finding of guilt or innocence. The October 2004 spill involved the company''s oil tanker Polar Texas, which spilled between 1,000 and 7,200 gallons of crude oil. Patches of oily sheen reached as far south as the Tacoma Narrows and as far north as Eagle Harbor. The spill harmed Puget Sound Chinook salmon and other salmon species, forage fish, shellfish and their habitats, as well as other bird and wildlife species, ecology officials said. ConocoPhillips and Polar Tankers previously agreed in October 2006 to pay the federal government more than $2.3 million to clean up, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The companies also paid the state Department of Ecology $540,000 in civil penalties. It was the largest fine the department had ever issued for a spill in marine waters, and the maximum possible penalty under state law, state officials said at the time.