The Australian and Queensland state governments are demanding the owners of the cargo ship Pacific Adventurer keep their promise to pay the full costs of one of Australia's worst oil spills.
The cyclone-buffeted ship leaked 270,000 litres of fuel into Moreton Bay in March, blackening beaches on Moreton and Bribie islands and along the Sunshine Coast.
But lawyers for Swire Shipping wrote to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh this week saying the Hong Kong company refused to cover all the costs associated with the clean-up.
Ms Bligh has attacked the company for trying to shirk its responsibilities despite its repeated public assurances immediately after the disaster that it would do the right thing.
An $A34 million clean-up involving 2,500 people allowed beaches to reopen within nine weeks of the accident.
Swire Shipping is now referring to an international maritime convention that caps clean-up payments at $US17 million.
Ms Bligh said taxpayers should not have to foot the bill, while Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the company should do the right thing.