Company a no-show on English Bay spill charges

VANCOUVER — A company accused of operating a ship that leaked bunker fuel in Vancouver’s English Bay in April 2015 failed to appear in British Columbia Provincial Court to face charges linked to the spill.

The MV Marathassa and Alassia NewShips Management Inc., a firm based in Greece, were due in court Wednesday on 10 charges, including discharge of a pollutant, but only a lawyer for the ship appeared.

The spill of at least 2,700 litres of bunker fuel in English Bay and the ensuing miscommunications among Canadian authorities and delays in cleanup raised questions about Canada’s preparedness for oil spills.

A lawyer for Alassia previously filed an application for judicial review in Federal Court, alleging Canadian authorities failed to properly serve it with summonses, but its case hit a bump on Tuesday when a judge said the company should instead seek relief in B.C. Supreme Court.

The company has said one summons was delivered to a captain who has no fixed employment with Alassia and who is currently the master of a vessel owned by a different company. However, Crown counsel Jessica Lawn said Wednesday the vessel is operated by Alassia.

Peter Swanson, a lawyer for Alassia, has said the company also does not own the MV Marathassa, but Lawn said outside the courtroom that ownership of the vessel may be determined by the court.

Swanson said in an email he was not in a position to comment on why Alassia did not appear.

The next court date in the case is scheduled for June 1.

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

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