Air pollution, Marine Pollution, Inspections, Liability, Damages, Standing

The case was initiated after a vessel anchored in Apia Harbour spilled around 86.65 metric tonnes of Dual Purpose Kerosene into the harbour. The Samoa Ports Authority and other port authorities were immediately informed of the spillage and the spillage was stopped.

The Court established that an oil spill of this kind could have enormous implications for the port, associated waterways and for the environment as a whole. Moreover, the different authorities and the Government departments had large expenses as a result of the oil spills, including for investigation, clean-up, administration, field inspections etc.

The defendants (the Master and the Owner of the vessel) were charged with the offence of throwing, discharging or depositing into the waters of Apia Port a harmful substance, or marine pollution. Strict responsibility is applied for this kind of offence, thus it did not matter that the defendants were unaware of the offence being committed.

The Court then concluded that the defendants were guilty and had liability for the expenses connected to removing, cleaning up or dispersing the harmful substance. The other expenses were not covered by the liability.