Peter Franchot, comptroller of Maryland, has written a letter to Benjamin Tsai, president of Evergreen Shipping Agency (America) Corporation, calling on the shipping company to pay US$100 million to cover costs related to Ever Forward grounding in the Chesapeake Bay.
"I am calling on Evergreen to establish an initial $100 million Responsibility Fund now, from which relevant parties can begin receiving compensation or reimbursement for the impact this incident has caused," said Franchot in his letter.
This "responsibility fund" includes reimbursement for labor hours and resources that federal, state, and local agencies have directed towards this effort, and potential compensation for watermen and the seafood industry for this incident’s impact on their harvest season, according to Franchot.
In his letter, Franchot wrote, "this incident has caused, and potentially could cause more, environmental damage to the Chesapeake Bay. While we do not know the full scope of the environmental impact thus far, a 131,420-ton ship – carrying tons of cargo and fuel – getting stuck in our waters undoubtedly has resulted in disruptions to the Bay’s fragile ecosystem."
"Among the efforts that were employed was to dredge near and around the ship to refloat the ship. While this may have been a necessary action, among its potential consequences include damage to oyster beds and disruptions to spawning season for several species that our seafood industry – already struggling economically due to labor shortages – will harvest in the coming months," noted the comptroller of Maryland, adding that "As if these environmental disruptions are not bad enough, the very real danger of a hull breach and an oil spill is top of mind for me, and for so many leaders and Marylanders across our state. Such an incident would be an environmental and economic catastrophe for the state, the region, and the country."
Franchot pointed out, "the damage that this incident has already caused – and could potentially continue to cause – will require financial resources to correct."
He concluded, "It is my sincere hope that Evergreen takes this action as expeditiously as possible, and begins to correct the wrongs this incident caused to our Bay and our residents who depend on it for their livelihoods."