Western Canada Marine Response Corp. works on bunker fuel spill in Vancouver’s English Bay from the bulk freighter MV Marathassa in April 2015. (WCMRC)

Western Canada Marine Response Corp. works on bunker fuel spill in Vancouver’s English Bay from the bulk freighter MV Marathassa in April 2015. (WCMRC)

Vancouver mayor ‘disappointed’ with financial compensation for 2015 oil spill

The city received less than half of the amount claimed for the Marathassa spill in English Bay

Vancouver’s mayor says he is disappointed with compensation the city has received after an oil spill four years ago in English Bay.

Last spring, the city received $266,014 from Canada’s Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund – the second highest amount paid to a local government, according to a fund spokesperson.

However, the city had claimed twice that much – $569,053.

“This shows once again how the risks of oil spills are borne by local governments, while any benefits only benefit a small handful,” Kennedy Stewart said a statement, after the payment was mentioned during a presentation at this week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

“That’s why I have always maintained that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is a risk we cannot afford and this case shows why.”

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline — The economics of oil

In April 2015, the Cypriot-registered grain freighter Marathassa leaked 2,800 litres of oil into English Bay, sending a sheen onto many surrounding beaches.

The Canadian Coast Guard’s delayed response ignited a media firestorm in which then-mayor Gregor Robertson complained about how long it had taken to deploy containment booms and notify the city, adding that had the spill been any worse, the outcome would have been a “catastrophe.”

The Coast Guard would later complete a report that made 25 recommendations on how to deal with marine spills in the future, including improved coordination and communication.

READ MORE: Mayor, premier call oil spill response unacceptable

READ MORE: Oil spill ‘a wake-up call’ for Semiahmoo Peninsula

The fund recovered more than $2 million from the owners of the Marathassa, with offers also made to the Port of Vancouver and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The port claimed $198,947 and was offered $172,674 (including $13,874 in accrued interest), and the DFO claimed $2,431,746 and was offered $1,855,627 plus interest.

According to the claim summary, the shipmaster initially denied any responsibility for the oil spill. Transport Canada marine safety inspectors later traced the source to an on-board mechanical defect, which allowed bunker fuel into the bilge.



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

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