Australia lifts oil spill fines to $11 million

By the Associated Press | November 21, 2011 | 7:40 PM EST

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has increased maximum fines for ships that spill oil from $1 million to $11 million (US $11 million) in response to a Chinese coal carrier grounding on the Great Barrier Reef.

Parliament passed new laws late Monday for the discharge of oil or oil residue by ships in Australian waters. Shipping companies will also have to contribute to cleanup costs.

The change follows last year's grounding on the world's largest chain of coral reefs by the Shen Neng 1, which spilled nearly 3 tons of fuel oil. The ship's officers were fined about $50,000.