Charges Laid in Vancouver Bunker Spill Case

Friday March 31, 2017

Bulk carrier M/V Marathassa and shipowner Alassia NewShips Management Inc. are facing 10 charges in relation to a 2015 bunker spill in the port of Vancouver, Canada, local media reports.

As previously reported by Ship & Bunker, on April 8, 2015 Marathassa spilled 2,700 litres of HFO into Vancouver's English Bay, with local media at the time noting the owners could face penalties of $1 million or 18 months' imprisonment.

Following a lengthly investigation into the spill by Transport Canada, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada has now laid 10 charges including:

  • Six counts under the Canada Shipping Act, including contravening regulations, failing to implement an oil pollution emergency plan, and discharge of a pollutant.
  • Two counts under the Fisheries Act.
  • One count under the Canadian Environment Protection Act.
  • One count under the Migratory Bird Convention Act.

"Obviously the spill was really disturbing for everyone in British Columbia - in Vancouver especially. It is important for there to be consequences when companies don't take care and spoil our environment," Andrew Gage, West Coast Environmental Law, was quoted by news service CBC as saying.

At the time, the spill gained considerable media attention, particularly in relation to what some viewed as a botched oil spill response by authorities.

However, some questioned whether the outcry was more to do with where the spill took place - an area important to tourism and in the back yard of some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Canada - rather than the fact a spill had happened at all, a point also alluded to by Gage: "Our sense is that there certainly could be more enforcement of environmental legislation. It's great it's being done here, but what about in places where it's not right in peoples' faces?"

The BC provincial court is set to hear the case next week.