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WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY: $1 MILLION PENALTY ISSUED FOR TENYO MARU OIL SPILL

 OLYMPIA, Wash., July 22 /PRNewswire/ The Washington Department of Ecology has issued a $1 million fine for the July 1991 oil spill stemming from a collision between a Chinese freighter and a Japanese fish processing vessel, the department announced today. The incident occurred approximately 22 miles northwest of Washington's Cape Flattery in international waters.
 The penalty, which is the largest ever issued for an oil spill in Washington state, was assessed to the China Ocean Shipping Co. (COSCO Tianjin), owner of the Chinese freighter Tuo Hai. State officials believe the Tuo Hai was primarily responsible for the sinking of the 365-foot Japanese vessel Tenyo Maru.
 The Tenyo Maru was carrying more than 450,000 gallons of bunker "C" and diesel fuel when it sank in 500 feet of water. Oil that spilled from the ship killed thousands of sea birds, contaminated miles of tribal and national park beaches and damaged kelp beds.
 Ecology Director Mary Riveland said the penalty was issued at this time to comply with the state's two-year statute of limitations. The collision occurred on July 22, 1991 and the spill reached Washington state waters on July 26.
 "We were faced with a technical deadline," Riveland said. "Given that we believe reckless ship operation was involved, we feel we are compelled to issue a penalty now, even though the investigation is continuing."
 Riveland noted that the penalty was large because state law is tough on spills when recklessness is involved. The fine is based on $100,000 a day for 10 days.
 According to Ecology oil spill officials, the 610-foot Chinese freighter Tuo Hai:
 -- sailed a course through the middle of a large concentration of fishing vessels;
 -- ignored repeated directives from vessel traffic controllers to change its course;
 -- sailed at high speed in poor visibility conditions; and
 -- violated international navigation rules.
 The formal investigation into the cause of the collision is being conducted by the Canadian Board of Transport. That investigation is ongoing and a full report is expected to be made public soon.
 Riveland explained that the penalty does not address state and federal claims for natural resource damages and cleanup costs. Negotiations on those claims are currently underway.
 The Office of the Attorney General is assisting Ecology in the enforcement investigation and the natural resource damage negotiations.
 -0- 7/22/93
 /CONTACT: Greg Sorlie, program manager, 206-459-6037, or Ron Holcomb, information officer, 206-493-9362/


CO: Washington State Department of Ecology; China Ocean Shipping Co. ST: Washington IN: SU:

JH -- SE016 -- 4672 07/22/93 14:57 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 22, 1993
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