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LONDON-Managers of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds said they expect to receive thousands of claims over the next few weeks arising from last month's oil spill off Japan from Russian tanker Nakhodka.
IOPC Funds Director Mans Jacobsson said the funds-intergovernmental organizations set up by states party to shipping and pollution conventions-would begin making provisional payments as soon as they received valid claims.
But, he said that because claims might exceed the total of 135 million Special Drawing Rights ($185 million) available from IOPC and the ship's liability insurer, the U.K. P&I Club, initial payments will be only 60% of approved claims. The IOPC Funds choose such a percentage to ensure all valid claimants receive some compensation. Mr. Jacobsson said the level of payments relating to Nakhodka claims would be reviewed April 14 or 15 at the next session of the IOPC Funds. Payments might be increased from 60% after that meeting.
The IOPC Funds and the U.K. P&I Club have set up a claims office in Kobe, Japan. Mr. Jacobsson was surprised claims have not yet been filed but expects them to arrive any day.
The Nakhodka broke apart Jan. 2 in the Sea of Japan after a severe storm. Spillage from the 19,000 tons of fuel oil the tanker was carrying to Russia polluted more than 310 miles of coastline, affecting fishing, shellfish farms, scenic areas and bird sanctuaries (BI, Feb. 10).
The Petroleum Assn. of Japan worries that claims could exceed funds from the IOPC Funds and the U.K. P&I Club. Japanese oil importers stand to pay about 25% of the claims because IOPC Funds contributions come from participating countries' oil importers, of which Japan accounts for about one-fourth.