Supreme Court rules Citgo responsible for 2004 oil spill

Supreme Court rules Citgo responsible for 2004 oil spill
© Greg Nash

Citgo is liable for a 2004 oil spill and must pay back cleanup costs, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

In 2004, an oil tanker chartered by Citgo Asphalt Refining Company and others hit an anchor in the Delaware River, leading to the release of 264,000 gallons of heavy crude oil, according to court documents.

At the time, Frescati Shipping Company, which owned the vessel, and the U.S. together paid a total of $133 million to clean up the spill.


The court ruled 7-2 on Monday that Citgo and others are responsible for cleanup costs.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorDemocrats, advocates seethe over Florida voting rights ruling Supreme Court refuses to halt execution of Navajo inmate amid tribe's objections Stakes high for Supreme Court as Trump battles for reelection MORE, said a “safe-berth” clause in the charter contract should be interpreted as a safety warranty, meaning it was up to Citgo and others to make sure the tanker docked safely.

Disagreeing with the majority were conservative Justices Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasConservatives see glaring omission on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump, Biden renew push for Latino support Trump's Supreme Court list reveals influence of Clarence Thomas MORE and Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoTrump's Supreme Court list reveals influence of Clarence Thomas Supreme Court deals blow to GOP in dispute over RI absentee ballots States should pay attention to Supreme Court justices' comments on 'reopening' orders MORE. Thomas argued in the dissenting opinion that the text of the contract’s safe-berth clause does not include a safety guarantee.

He wrote that there is a need for more information on whether industry standard establishes such a warranty.

Citgo President and CEO Carlos Jordá expressed disappointment with the ruling, but said the company would abide by the court's decision.

"While we obviously have different views regarding the merits of our case, we respect the Court’s interpretation and can finally close this chapter on the Athos case,” Jordá said in a statement, referring to the Athos I vessel.

Updated at 12:42 p.m.