Posted by: reefrescue | July 19, 2010

Companies fight $6 million fine for damaging Ft. Lauderdale coral reef

An environmental accident off the Fort Lauderdale coast has generated a legal fight between state regulators and two foreign shipping companies.

The Spar Orion, a 623-foot cargo ship carrying powdered cement, ran aground north of Port Everglades early on the morning of May 17, 2006, smashing part a coral reef.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection levied a fine of $6.2 million against the owner, Spar Shipholding of Kokstad, Norway, and the operator, Fleet Management Ltd., of Hong Kong. But the companies have gone to court to contest the fine, saying that it’s much too large, that the damage was not as bad as the state claims and that they have already spent a lot to restore the reef.

The ship had been waiting in an anchorage parallel to the shore for a berth at Port Everglades when it drifted into shallow water and onto the reef, off the beach between Sunrise Boulevard and Las Olas Boulevard. About 16 hours later, at high tide, the ship floated free and steamed off

But it left behind damaged coral on reefs. The ship “scraped, scoured, fractured and gouged” the reef’s structure and “flattened, crushed and dislodged” hard corals, soft corals and sponges, according to a notice of violation by the state.

While aground, the ship’s stern swung back and forth, damaging an area more than 90 feet wide, according to the notice. More than 11,000 square feet of reef — a “rich and diverse biological community” — sustained structural damage, according to the notice.

Read more:,0,4043765.story


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