Attorneys for Yantai fishermen demand damages for losses from 2011 disaster
Fishermen affected by the 2011 Bohai Bay oil spill have demanded
170 million yuan ($24.5 million) in damages from the oil giants behind
Lawyers representing 205 people from Yantai, Shandong province,
who are suing China National Offshore Oil Corp and ConocoPhillips
revealed the compensation figure on Wednesday, according to a source at
Qingdao Maritime Court.
"Seven representatives showed up at the court to exchange
evidence," said Xue Wenshan, a court spokesman. "As the case has not yet
entered the trial phase, there are still many uncertainties."
The plaintiffs, mainly from Yantai's Muping and Changdao
counties, claim their livelihoods have been severely affected by leaks
from the Penglai 19-3 Oilfield. Two spills over a period of weeks in
June 2011 polluted more than 6,200 square kilometers of seawater,
including 870 sq km that was heavily polluted, according to
The oilfield is jointly operated by CNOOC and a Chinese subsidiary of US oil company ConocoPhillips.
In April 2012, authorities fined the oil companies 200,000 yuan
as an administrative punishment and ordered them to pay 1 billion yuan
toward work to restore the environment and protect the Bohai Sea.
However, the amount did not include compensation for fishing
Shandong's fishing industry has reported huge losses in recent
years, and "there is a strong correlation between this fact and the oil
spills", a provincial fishery official told China Youth News.
According to Guo Chengxi, a lawyer at Beijing DHH Law Firm, also
speaking to China Youth News, the fishermen have paid 2.08 million yuan
to fund the litigation.
"More than 40 fishermen have withdrawn their claims in the past
year because they were uncertain about whether we can win the case, or
were not able to afford the legal expenses," he was quoted as saying.
"Many of those still in pursuit of justice have borrowed money to pay
expenses or lowered their compensation demands."
Fish farms in other provinces have filed similar lawsuits against the oil giants.
On Dec 9, Tianjin Maritime Court heard a case in which five
aquaculture farmers demanded more than 1 million yuan in compensation
for seawater pollution caused by the 2011 oil spills, which they say led
to a sharp decrease in their fishing output. The court has yet to issue
The devastation caused by the Bohai Bay oil leaks was to highlight the need for tougher controls on maritime pollution.
Lawmakers amended the Marine Environmental Protection Law on Nov 7
to introduce higher financial penalties for polluters, with companies
now facing fines of 20 to 30 percent of the direct losses caused by