Vancouver prepares to unleash the lawyers over English Bay spill

Vancouver: City of Vancouver officials are already priming for legal action over the English Bay fuel spill and it could be just one of many suits in the aftermath of the incident, Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Penny Ballem, the city manager, confirmed lawyers are being engaged and city agencies are gathering as much data as possible to help any cases brought.

Vancouver officials have made it clear since soon after last Wednesday’s bunker fuel spill from the Greek-owned bulk carrier Marathassa (80,635 dwt, built 2015) that the ship’s owners will be held to account for the costs of the clean-up. Ballen did not have a sum for the costs so far.

Further lawsuits could arise as the extent of damage to the environment and wildlife become clear. Globules of heavy bunker fuel have washed up on beaches, about three dozen birds are known to have come into contact with the oil and the impact on fisheries can only be guessed at.

Also, the real quantity of fuel involved still needs to be established. In the early days after the accident, the estimate was of about 3,000 litres in the water. But that may need to be reassessed upwards as it is feared there could still be some 40 square metres of oil under the hull of the boat.

Ballem noted that the Greek company managing the ship, Alassia NewShips Management, has a liability cap of $28-million. But the government-funded Ship source oil Pollution Fund has up to $162m for damages caused by international shipping.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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