A Chinese court says it has accepted a case brought by a social organization against oil giants ConocoPhillips China and China National Offshore Oil Corp. over oil spills in northern China in 2011.

It is the first case brought by a social organization over maritime pollution since China changed its law to allow registered non-government organizations who have been dealing with environmental issues for at least five years to sue heavy polluters.

Qingdao Maritime Court said that the plaintiff, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, wants the defendants to "immediately repair the damage in the Bohai Bay's ecosystem" so as to restore the area to its original state before the oil spill.

It gave no further details about the claim.