S.C. Clam Farmers Settle for $1.8 Million Following Oil Spill

October 22, 2007

More than a dozen South Carolina clam farmers who claimed most of their crop was spoiled by an oil spill five years ago have settled a lawsuit with a shipping line and a dredging firm for nearly $1.8 million.

Under the settlement, Taiwan-based shipper Evergreen and Virginia-based Norfolk Dredging Co. will pay the clam farmers. A trial had been scheduled to begin this week.

In September 2002, some 12,500 gallons of oil oozed into Charleston waterways and polluted a 15-mile stretch of shoreline when an Evergreen ship ran into unmarked and submerged sections of steel dredge pipe as the ship headed toward its North Charleston container terminal.

The underwater crash tore a 24-foot-long gash in the vessel’s hull and ruptured a fuel tank.

About 15 clam farmers claimed their collective inventory dropped more than 90 percent from about 28 million clams to about 2 million.

“We’re happy to achieve this resolution for our clients and the community,” said William Applegate, who represented the farmers.

A spokeswoman for Evergreen said the shipping line was innocent and the company was pleased to move forward.

“We decided to settle out of court to have this matter behind us so we can focus on our core business of operating world-class shipping services with environmentally sensitive care,” Barbara Yeninas said in an e-mail.

Information from: The Post and Courier,

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