Vessel Charged with Illegal Discharge in Canadian Waters

Monday, November 10, 2003
Transport Minister David Collenette today announced that the federal government has successfully prosecuted the MV Cape Benat, a Liberian-registered chemical tanker, for spilling canola oil in Vancouver Harbour. The pollution incident occurred while the vessel was loading canola crude oil at Vanterm, in the Port of Vancouver, on November 23 and 24, 1999. The MV Cape Benat is owned by the Cape Benat Navigation Company of Liberia and operated by Columbia Ship Management of Cyprus. The vessel was charged with unlawfully discharging a noxious liquid substance into Canadian waters, a violation of the Canada Shipping Act. The British Columbia Provincial Court imposed a $60,000 penalty on the vessel owner, the Cape Benat Navigation Company. This included a fine of $10,000 and a payment of $50,000 for local Canadian Wildlife Services projects. Under the polluter pays provisions of the Canada Shipping Act, the owner was also required to pay $125,000 to the Canadian Coast Guard to cover cleanup costs. "Transport Canada is committed to ensuring environmentally responsible commercial marine operations," said Mr. Collenette. "Pollution prosecutions such as this demonstrate to the international marine community that the costs for illegally discharging in Canadian waters are significant." On November 24, 1999, Transport Canada and Environment Canada began investigating an oily substance detected alongside Vanterm and in other areas in Vancouver Harbour. Over 200 tonnes of crude canola oil were reported unaccounted for after the MV Cape Benat was loaded at Vanterm and the vessel was identified as a potential source of the pollution. The vessel was charged under the Canada Shipping Act and, on September 29, 2003, the vessel owner entered a guilty plea to the charge of illegally discharging a noxious substance. "Transport Canada will continue to prosecute marine pollution offenders, and to seek higher fines from the courts under the Canada Shipping Act, as a deterrent against future occurrences of ship source pollution in our waters," added Mr. Collenette.

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