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Bretons Disappointed By Size of Award in Tanker Disaster With AM-Amoco Cadiz

January 11, 1988

PLOUDALMEZEAU, France (AP) _ French officials said they were disappointed with a a U.S. federal court’s $85.2 million award Monday for damages caused by the 1978 wreck of the supertanker Amoco Cadiz that devastated nearby sealife.

″That does not correspond to our hopes after this battle we’ve waged for 10 years,″ Yves Bertrand, mayor of the Brittany town of Landunvezm, said at a news conference.

The plaintiffs, including 90 villages, groups of oystermen and fishermen, property owners, environmentalists and the French government, sought more than $1 billion in damages.

Elected officials and other members of a group set up to coordinate damage claims gathered in Ploudalmezeau, a town of 5,000 people near the western tip of France, to await U.S. District Judge Frank McGarr’s ruling in Chicago.

″We had placed our confidence in the hands of Judge Frank McGarr,″ said Vincent LeMoigne, mayor of Portsall, one of the hardest-hit coastal villages. ″For Standard Oil ... this drop of black gold really doesn’t cost very dearly.″

In Paris, Environment Minister Alain Carignon said he ″could not fail to regret that the plaintiffs other than the government have not received indemnizations corresponding to their demands.″

But he said the ruling placing responsibility on Amoco, rather than on the ship’s operator at the time ″permitted a great advance in jurisprudence. ″

McGarr set damages Monday at $45.5 million plus $39.7 million in interest. He ruled in 1984 that Amoco Corp. - formerly Standard Oil of Indiana - was responsible for the damage caused by what was then the largest oil spill ever to touch land.

In Chicago, representatives of both sides said they would appeal McGarr’s ruling.

The Amoco Cadiz wreck, spilling 68 million gallons of oil off the Brittany coast, killed uncounted numbers of seabirds, put fishermen out of work for months and forced costly beach cleanups before coastal villages could begin attracting tourists again.

The ruling was awaited eagerly in France. The most-watched television network, TF-1, anchored its nightly newscast from the Brittany village of Portsall and went directly to a live report from Chicago on the award.

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