Texas Ship-Inspection Company Implicated in Prestige Tanker Disaster

Negligence on the part of the Texas-based American Bureau of Shipping — a company that conducts safety inspections of ships — could be to blame for the notorious Prestige tanker disaster, which spilled millions of gallons of oil off the coast of Spain 15 months ago and affected or destroyed the livelihoods of some 100,000 fishers and other Spaniards. So say two lawsuits pending against ABS, which seek a combined total of $1 billion in damages from the company. Though numerous problems had been found with the ship over the years and one past captain had quit the vessel because of its poor condition, ABS inspected and approved the Prestige shortly before the disaster. A number of previous, unrelated lawsuits have also accused ABS of shoddy practices that have led to shipping accidents, deaths of crew members, and environmental damage.