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Who’s to blame for spill?

The week's news at a glance.

Spanish coast

Spanish coastWho’s to blame for spill? Tons of sludge from the shipwrecked oil tanker Prestige continued to wash up on the Spanish coast this week, as officials puzzled over who should be blamed for the disaster. The tanker was Liberian-owned, Greek-operated, and Bahamian-flagged. It had recently stopped in Latvian, British, and several other ports, where it should have been inspected. The oil it was carrying was owned by Crown Resources, a Swiss-based company owned by Alfa, the murky business empire of a Russian billionaire. “Tankers are a totally unregulated market,” one ship broker told the London Independent, “where the only concern is low price.” Energy traders often load ships with oil before they have a buyer. That means a cheap, aging vessel effectively acts as a floating storage bin for millions of tons of crude. “There will be another accident in a month’s time,” the broker predicted.

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