Canadian Underwriter

Ten charges laid in oil spill that fouled English Bay beaches in Vancouver

March 30, 2017   by Laura Kane - THE CANADIAN PRESS

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VANCOUVER – Charges have been laid against the owners of the MV Marathassa nearly two years after a leak of bunker fuel onto the beaches of English Bay in Vancouver, but the company is trying to scuttle the proceedings.

A spill response boat secures a boom around the bulk carrier cargo ship MV Marathassa after a bunker fuel spill on Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, B.C., on April 9, 2015. A ship that leaked more than 2,700 litres of bunker fuel into the waters off Vancouver almost two weeks ago will soon be given the go-ahead to dock at Vancouver’s port. The Coast Guard says it has completed its decontamination of the MV Marathassa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Documents filed in British Columbia provincial court show the Marathassa and Greece-based Alassia NewShips Management Inc. face a total of 10 charges including discharge of a pollutant.

In all, six charges have been laid under Canadian shipping legislation, two relate to alleged Fisheries Act violations and single charges linked to alleged violations of federal environmental laws and the Migratory Bird Act.

None of the allegations has been tested in court.

A provincial court date has been set for Wednesday, but the company is attempting to stop the proceedings with an application for judicial review filed in Federal Court.

Related: Oil spill fears remain one year after bunker fuel fouled Vancouver beaches

In the application, the company argues a summons served by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada or the Attorney General of Canada are invalid.

It says the summons was served to a Canadian insurance adjuster, Charles Taylor Adjusting, as well as Antonios Valakitsis, master of the MV Afroessa. The summons was addressed to Alassia NewShips Management Inc. in Greece.

Alassia argues that Canadian law requires summonses to be delivered to a director, manager, secretary or other executive officer of a corporation or a branch of it, and that neither the insurance adjuster or Antonios fit that description.

The application says Antonios is a short-term contractor who does not have any ongoing position with Alassia, as he only served as master of two of the company’s vessels under fixed contracts. It also says the MV Afroessa is owned by a different company.

Related: Ship that spilled bunker fuel into Vancouver’s English Bay was on first voyage

Alassia is seeking an order declaring the attempt to serve the summons to be invalid, quashing and setting them aside, as well as an order prohibiting further attempts to serve the summons in a similar manner.

It also wants an interim order stopping the prosecution service or attorney general from taking any steps against the company in B.C. provincial court until a judicial review is heard and determined.

The company is also seeking costs.

At least 2,700 litres of bunker fuel spilled on April 8, 2015, while the Cypriot-registered vessel was moored in English Bay.

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