Spain’s Supreme Court has ruled that the captain and the insurer of the Prestige oil tanker must pay more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in compensation for Spain’s biggest environmental disaster, when the vessel sank in 2002.

The court said in a statement Thursday that captain Apostolos Mangouras and The London Owners Mutual Insurance Association shall pay the damages to Spain, France and authorities in Spain’s Galicia region, as well as to another 269 companies, communities and individuals affected by the spill.

The tanker sprang a leak and sank off northwest Spain, polluting a long stretch of coastline and ruining the area’s rich fishing grounds.

Years of legal challenges slowed the compensation process.

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2002 file photo, the stricken Bahamas-flagged Prestige, carrying some 77,000 metric tons (85,000 US tons) of fuel oil, leaves a trail of oil behind it off the northwestern Spanish coast near the town of Muxia, Spain. (AP Photo/Carmelo Alen, File)
FILE – In this Nov. 14, 2002 file photo, the stricken Bahamas-flagged Prestige, carrying some 77,000 metric tons (85,000 US tons) of fuel oil, leaves a trail of oil behind it off the northwestern Spanish coast near the town of Muxia, Spain. (AP Photo/Carmelo Alen, File)

Source: The Associated Press