Bulker crew cleared of oil spill charges in Canada

 Image: Canadian Press (file)
Image: Canadian Press (file)
Image: Canadian Press (file)
Image: Canadian Press (file)

A Canadian judge has cleared the crew of a Cyprus-flagged cargo ship of any wrongdoing in relation to an oil spill incident in the waters off Vancouver in 2015.

The incident occurred on April 8 of that year, when a faulty valve on the bulk carrier Marathassa caused more than 2,700 litres of fuel oil to leak into Vancouver's English Bay.

The resulting cleanup took longer than two weeks because of the large volume of leaked fuel oil, causing outrage among residents.

Marathassa's crew were initially charged with discharging a pollutant into the water and failing to implement the vessel's pollution emergency plan.

However, in a decision on Thursday, February 7, Justice Kathryn Denhoff of the Provincial Court of British Columbia ruled that the crew had indeed done their due diligence and implemented their pollution emergency plan "by taking samples of the fuel oil in the water and by assisting with containment."

Denhoff also found that neither the vessel's owners nor its crew could have foreseen the defects that would eventually contribute to the spill, namely, the faulty valve and an improperly installed onboard alarm.

At the time of the incident, Marathassa had only been sailing for three weeks since leaving its shipyard in Japan, leading the judge to rule that it was reasonable for the owners and the crew to expect that a brand new vessel would be free of such defects that early in its operational life.

The city government of Vancouver, which still has more than half a million dollars in environmental claims for costs incurred due to the spill, said in a statement that it was "disappointed" by the dismissal of the charges.

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