According to reports, the owner and operators of the tanker involved in South Korea's worst oil spill denied
any wrongdoing, but offered sympathy to locals affected by the environmental fallout and their insurer agreed to accept claims for compensation.
The Dec. 7 accident occurred after a barge owned by Samsung Group slammed
into Hong Kong-registered tanker Hebei Spirit
, which leaked 78,920 barrels of oil into
western coastal waters.
But the owner of Hebei Spirit, Hebei Spirit Shipping Co.
, and its operator, V. Ships
, both denied wrongdoing at a press conference in Hong Kong on Thursday.
The accident jeopardized the ecosystem and the livelihood of residents in the area, home to some of the country's most scenic beaches.
Samsung, which issued a public apology for the accident published in major South Korean newspapers Tuesday, has said it will deal with compensation as required by law.
The South Korean government
has promised financial aid, but payments have been delayed. Three people distraught over the slow compensation process have committed suicide in recent weeks.
On Monday, $59m in funds raised by the central and local governments and from public donations was sent to the governments of six affected cities and counties. The distribution of the money, however, has been delayed as officials determine who is eligible and for how much.