Vicuña

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Owner fights $21m penalty over fatal chemtanker blast
Ultragas, a subsidiary of Ultramar of Chile, is planning to appeal against a $21.3m penalty over a fatal explosion onboard the chemtanker Vicuña last year.

Four people died in the blast, which blew the vessel in two as it was unloading 14,000 tons of methanol at the private berth of Cattalini Terminals Maritimos in Paranagua on November 15.

The tanker owner considers the penalty — imposed by two Brazilian environmental authorities — unjust and disproportionate.

The cash demand relates solely to the environmental impact of the gas and bunker spill. An official report into the cause of the incident is still being compiled.

Chief Executive Michael Schröder stressed that Ultragas had already spent $15m as a result of the incident.

The money went towards addressing environmental concerns, contracts with specialist companies, clean-up manpower, and aid to affected fishing communities.

Although he admitted that the vessel was responsible for contamination, he argued: «The environmental damage was due, in large part, to the absence of contingency plans in the port of Paranagua to deal with this type of accident.»

He insisted that the 17,500 dwt ship, built in 1983, was in excellent technical condition and there were no operational anomalies.

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