Indirect assessment of economic damages from the Prestige oil spill: consequences for liability and risk prevention

María Dolores Garza, Albino Prada, Manuel Varela, María Xosé Vázquez Rodríguez
Disasters 2009, 33 (1): 95-109
The social losses arising from the Prestige oil spill exceed the compensation granted under the IOPC (International Oil Pollution Compensation) system, with losses estimated at 15 times more than the applicable limit of compensations. This is far above the level of costs for which those responsible for hydrocarbons spills are liable. The highest market losses correspond to sectors of extraction, elaboration and commercialisation of seafood. However, damages to non-commercial natural resources could constitute an outstanding group of losses for which further primary data are needed: these losses would only be compensable under the current system by means of a refund for cleaning and restoration costs. Results show that, in Europe, the responsibility for oil spills in maritime transport is limited and unclear. The consequence of this is net social losses from recurrent oil spills and internationally accepted incentives for risky strategies in the marine transport of hydrocarbons.

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