The government was awarded $221,935.86 for cleanup costs as a result of an oil spill that occurred after the cargo ship Vagabond ran aground near Fallen Jerusalem in 2006.
The June 4 High Court judgment included compensation for labour and salvage assessment costs, according to Government Information Services.
The claim for compensation — which GIS said was the first of its kind — was filed by the Attorney General’s Chambers in October 2012 seeking $251,329.76.
The judge found “irrefutable evidence that the government provided services for the cleanup process and had to call on an external [United States]-based firm to assist,” according to GIS.
The vessel, which was owned by Caribbean Transport Ltd., ran aground just before midnight on Oct. 15, 2006 while en route to Anguilla, according to Sharleen DaBreo, the director of the Department of Disaster Management.
The impact severely damaged the vessel, and the captain and crew had to be rescued.
“This required a national response under the direction of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and subsequently the activation of the National Emergency Operations Centre,” Ms. DaBreo said. “The operations went on for days and involved a number of local and international agencies including those from the United States government.”
Senior Crown Council Giselle Jackman-Lumy and Crown Counsel Sarah Potter-Washington appeared on behalf of the attorney general. The defendant was represented by Richard Rowe of the law firm DenJen.
Ms. DaBreo said DDM has worked with various departments and private sector agencies to increase the level of awareness about oil pollution and to establish the necessary legal framework.
“We have seen the success of the public awareness and education campaigns as the number of spills have decreased significantly,” she said. “We continue to inform and educate the public about the effects that can be caused by oil spill on land and at sea.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Communication and Works has developed a draft Oil Spill Prevention and Pollution Bill that is expected to be finalised soon and taken to the House of Assembly for approval, according to GIS.
Caribbean Transport Ltd. did not respond to a request for comment.