|2009.06.11 10:34||2009.06.11 10:34 | Eco-system Conservation|
The maximum amount of compensation legally payable to the victims affected by the Taean oil spill is limited to 300 billion won. This is because the Korean government did not join the additionalconventionin2005,whichallows compensation of up to 1 trillion won. The victims had to waste their precious time and energy to protest against Samsung Heavy Industry and the government because of the unrealistic (insufficient?) compensation money. Actually, this was the period they should have concentrated on investigation and finding proof of damage. The government didn’t pay attention to the victims nor prepare full scale recovery work.
○ The International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC), which usually applies strict standards, has estimated about 600 billion won as the amount of damage caused by the Taean oil spill. Under the ‘Taean Special Law’ we have to spend a huge amount of taxpayer money to pay the compensation that exceeded the limit. It would have been avoidable if we had joined the supplementary fund in advance. Apart from the fact that the amount of compensation for the damage is much less than we think.
1. We are 4th biggest country among IOPC members in terms of volume of imported oil. The other 21 countries have already joined the Supplementary Fund (or, 1 trillion won club).
2. When we look at the amount of damage by oil pollution in Korean territorial waters, it can be calculated as 3 times higher than the world average of 53 million won per every ton. Korea is intensively developingandutilizingits natural ocean resources.
3. Over the last 10 years there have been 26 major oil spills all over the world out of which 8 cases – or one third –occured in Korean territory.
4. The incident in Taean happened since the oil tanker was a single body structure. More than 60% of large oil tankers visiting Koreaare single hulled. The figure is almost double the world average. It means we have a higher risk of oil spills, and face much more serious damage. Despite this the Korean government didn’t consider the risk at all.
In year of 2005, research conducted by the Korean Maritime Institute entitled “Policy Implications for the Ratification of the Supplementary Fund Protocol” and the KMI's review of the international compensation regime concluded that that there is little possibility of an incident at Korean waters. However, the Taean oil spill occured within 2 years of the report being published. What we have to consider now is not whether it will happen again or not, but when and how the next incident will happen.
Since JULY 2008, three environmental organizations - GREEN KOREA UNITED, GLOBAL LEGAL CLINIC(GLC) AT KOREA UNIVERSITY, and GREENLAW - have campaigned to highlight the necessity of joining the Supplementary Fund, and at the same time we have collected the signatures from citizens on and off line. 9,086 people have signed up to show their support for the government joining the Fund. If we join the fund, the residents of the affected region would get full compensation and faster recovery for them and nature with the support of IOPC. This is the reason why we have to ratify the special law and join the Supplementary Fund. It would be shameful if we can not learn anything from the experience in Taean.
18. FEB. 09
KOREA GREEN UNITE, GLOBAL LEGAL CLINIC AT KOREAUNIVERSITY,GREENLAW
translated by Jang Junghak