Vancouver Aquarium, BC First Nation angry about unpaid clean-up costs for recent fuel spills

VANCOUVER – Transport Canada says when vessels spill fuel in Canadian waters, strict rules ensure the ship owners pay for the cleanup, but that hasn’t been the case so far in connection to two recent spills in BC.

The Vancouver Aquarium says it’s still owed $180,000 for the 2015 bunker fuel leak that Transport Canada claimed was from the bulk carrier the MV Marathassa.

Aquarium scientist Peter Ross says the money was spent on environmental testing to figure out what the fuel was and the risks it posed to the facility, but the ship’s owner has offered to cover less than a quarter of the cost.

The City of Vancouver says it is also waiting to be compensated for $500,000 in expenses related to the leak, and it’s now submitted a claim to the federal government’s Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund that covers costs when ship owners don’t.

Lawyer Peter Swanson who represents the Marathassa declined comment, saying negotiations about compensation are confidential.

The Heiltzuk Nation say it is also negotiating repayment of $200,000 spent for its response to a diesel spill when the tugboat the Nathan E. Stewart ran aground off the coast of Bella Bella in October 2016.

The tug’s owners Kirby Offshore Marine did not respond to requests for comment, and Heiltzuk Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett says the nation is considering legal action to get the money.

Transport Canada says the new Oceans Protection Plan will strengthen the spill response system by allowing for unlimited compensation from the federal pollution fund.

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