19 Jun 2010

Marshall Islands official says republic not to blame for Gulf spill

8:29 am on 19 June 2010

A senior Marshall Islands maritime official is defending the republic's practice of registering foreign ships, saying it's not to blame for the BP oil spill.

It's been suggested the republic is responsible for the explosion, which killed 11 people and flooded the open sea with crude oil, because the rig was flagged in the Marshalls.

The Marshalls operates the third largest ship registry and has met twice with investigators trying to pinpoint the cause of the explosion.

The senior deputy commissioner of Maritime Affairs, Bill Gallagher, says the Deepwater Rig carried the Marshalls flag but it doesn't mean it's to blame.

"To have legal action you have to have some sort of causation. I mean, lets go back to the Exon Valdez - no one took action against the US flag for the Exon valdez - the went after the company. It's a very similar situation."

Bill Gallagher, from the Office of the Maritime Administrator.

The Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilt 257,000 barrels of oil in Alaska after running aground in 1989.

In the Gulf, a containment cap and another device are currently capturing some 25,000 barrels of oil a day out of an estimated maximum of 60,000.