Published On: Wed, Apr 9th, 2014

Parties in oil case Jan Kok discuss settlement

Oil spillWILLEMSTAD - Wind direction, wind speed and the flow of the water. These are the main issues that need to determine whether the oil spill of August 17 and 18, 2012 at Jan Kok flowed comes from the Isla Refinery.

Heritage Foundation and Seashore sued the refinery to be responsible for the oil spill. This is a report from the Caribbean Network.

Settlement

Today, the case was brought before the court. Following the plea by both lawyers, the judge suggested quickly the possibility of a settlement. This would imply that the Islan does not have to acknowledge guilt, but it will take a great deal of potential costs on itself.

Isla refinery

On August 17 and 18, 2012, a large amount of oil was found in the salt pans of Jan Kok. Isla Refinery spokesman, Kenneth Gijsbertha, told the media that the refinery would take its responsibility and acknowledged that the oil came from them. He later withdrew that statement.

Reassurance

Gijsbertha is not an expert and have only tried to give reassurance to the population,” the Isla attorney Robert Rijnberg said. According to the Isla lawyer it cannot be proven that the oil which flowed into the reef at St. Marie came from the refinery. “There was indeed an oil leak on August 18 at Bullenbaai, but this was not as damaging as the oil spill in Jan Kok. The penalty should therefore be significantly reduced.”

No doubt

According to lawyer Rogier van den Heuvel, there is no doubt about the origin of the oil. "Jan Kok is located next to the oil terminal, Isla leaks oil regularly and the oil that leaks at the COT is blown right in the direction of Jan Kok,” was a summary of the lawyer’s argument.

Current

Rijnberg also defended his argument by showing the flow of water in that area. He did this using a map. “The flow of water is unpredictable. The water flows faster in some estuaries than in others and the plaintiffs have not taken this into account.” Rijnberg was not able to produce documents of the currents which flowed on the days of the oil spill.

Research

For Marcel van den Plank, president of the Heritage Foundation, it is especially important that such "disasters" are avoided. "There must be a solution so this never happens again. Research should also be done to assess the damage at this time. There is no money to do so this research correctly and this is what we want from Isla. Of course they have to pay for the cleanup.” It seemed as if the judge agreed with Van der Plank because he proposed a similar arrangement between the parties.

Isla benevolent

Although Rijnberg stressed that Isla is not responsible for the oil in Jan Kok, he indicated that refinery is sympathetic to the settlement proposal. “The company has been involved in the cleanup of the oil spill since day one and has spent a great quantity of funds on this project. If these costs are deducted and an independent party conducts research on the current situation, we can talk about a settlement.”

Ruling

The parties will come together in the coming weeks to resolve this issue. If this fails,  the court will rule on this matter on May 19.

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