SHANGHAI, July 27 (Reuters) – A maritime court in the coastal city of Qingdao has said it will hear a landmark case brought by a nonprofit organisation against U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips and China's CNOOC Ltd, the official China Daily reported.
The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation will not claim compensation, but is calling for the two firms to accept responsibility for damage caused by the 2011 oil spill in northeast China, the paper reported.
The case will be the first public interest litigation brought by a nonprofit organisation over marine environmental pollution, it said.
ConocoPhillips and CNOOC have been embroiled in a series of legal claims following oil spills in 2011 in Bohai Bay that polluted over 6,200 square km of water.
In December last year, a group of 21 Chinese firms launched a claim against the two firms for more than 141 million yuan ($22.7 million) in compensation for losses connected to the impact of the spill on their sea cucumber farms.
China's State Oceanic Administration in April 2012 ordered the two companies to pay 1.683 billion yuan in compensation for damage to the region's marine ecology, as well as to fund environmental protection efforts in the Bohai Sea.
The oil firms also reached an agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture in January 2012 to pay 1 billion yuan to settle compensation claims stemming from oil spills in north China's Bohai Bay.
($1 = 6.2095 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Engen Tham; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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