The French government has filed suit against Amoco International Oil Co. asking $300 million in payments for damages to the Brittany Coast caused by oil spilled from the tanker Amoco Cadiz.
The suit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in New York City, also names as a defendant Claude Phillips, director of marine operations for the company.
The French government charges Amoco International and Phillips with negligence in the accident, claiming they "failed to issue adquate instructions to the crew of the Amoco Cadiz in respect to the safe maintenance and operation of the hydraulic steering system and other vital systems."
The Amoco Cadiz reportedly lost its ability to steer while carrying some 220,000 tons of crude oil through stormy weather in the English Channel. The tanker was bound for Rotterdam from the Persian Gulf when it ran aground and broke up.
France contends that the defendants "failed to man the Amoco Cadiz with a competant master and watch-keeping deck officers with adequate experience or proper training or to provide them with proper steering directions, plots and charts."
The government charged that the ship's captain was negligent in not asking for help immediately after the steering failed, claiming he waited two hours. The ship eventually ran aground 7.5 miles from the Isle of Ushant, rupturing the hull and spilling oil all over the waters off the Britany Coast.
An attorney for the firm represting Amoco International said he had not yet seen the suit, but added that "Amoco considers that the incident is controlled by the international conention on civil liability for oil pollution."