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In re In re Hokkaido Fisheries Co.

Citation: 11 ELR 20657
No. Nos. 80-137, -199, 506 F. Supp. 631/16 ERC 1774/(D. Alaska, 02/04/1981)

The court rules that under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) the United States may seek recovery of oil spill cleanup costs outside of a shipowner's action for exoneration from or limitation of liability under the Limited Liability Act. Because the Limitation Act limits liability for damages caused by a ship to its value after the event, there would be little available to offset the $2.8 million cleanup costs incurred by the government when the ships went aground if the Limitation Act applied to the government's claim in this case. The court rules that the language and legislative history of the FWPCA indicate that the authority granted to the government to recover cleanup costs is not subject to lixitation. A contrary interpretation would violate Congress' explicit policythat there be no discharge of oil into navigable waters of the United States.

Counsel for Petitioner
Michael H. Woodell
Bradbury, Bliss & Riordan
Suite 201, 431 W. 7th St., Anchorage AK 99501
(907) 279-5541

Counsel for the United States
Alice Daniel, Ass't Attorney General
Civil Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-3354

Rene Gonzales, Acting U.S. Attorney
Box 9, U.S. Fed. Bldg. & Cthse., 701 C St., Room C-252, Anchorage AK 99501
(907) 271-5701)

Phillip A. Berns, Warren A. Schneider, Norman J. Ronneberg Jr.
Civil Division
Department of Justice, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco CA 94102
(415) 556-6430