MV Marathassa, the ship that spilled fuel into English Bay in 2015. (Alassia NewShips Management via Canadian Coast Guard)

UPDATE: Trial begins over 2015 fuel spill in Vancouver’s English Bay

Alassia NewShips Management, the vessel MV Marathassa face 10 environmental-related charges

A port worker says he suspected large plumes of oil that were shining on the surface of the water in Vancouver’s harbour nearly three years ago was bunker fuel, based on the smell.

A B.C. provincial court judge heard Monday that Mark James of the Port of Metro Vancouver responded to reports of a spill on April 15, 2015.

“When you smell gasoline, you know the smell of gasoline,” James testified on the opening day of a trial for a company and vessel charged after the spill. “We knew it was bunker oil, which was serious.”

The charges were laid after 2,700 litres of fuel leaked into English Bay.

READ MORE: Review flags denial, confusion in slow response to Marathassa oil spill

READ MORE: Mayors blast oil spill response, NEB pipeline review

A judge earlier allowed the trial to go ahead even without one defendant attending the hearing.

The Greek shipping firm Alassia NewShips Management Inc. and the vessel MV Marathassa face 10 environmental related charges, including alleged violations under the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environment Protection Act.

Alassia has denied ownership of the Marathassa and the company was not represented in court on Monday. Judge Kathryn Denhoff previously ruled the trial would proceed without Alassia’s participation, and she affirmed that decision as the trial began.

Outside court, Crown attorney Jessica Lawn said Alassia is the alleged operator of the vessel and evidence supporting that assertion could be valuable to the case.

“It’s the Crown’s duty to prove that Alassia, as charged on the information, committed the offences in the way that we’ve alleged,” she said.

In his testimony, James said he spotted patches of oil as long as 4.5 metres and as wide as two metres while he tried to investigate the source. He described collecting samples and investigating about a half dozen vessels that were anchored in the bay at the time.

When he boarded the Marathassa, James said the captain gave him a blank sheet of paper with the vessel’s letterhead so that he could take some of the notes he relied on in court.

The Crown had James read the footer of the sheet to the court, which included Alassia’s name, address and contact information.

Marathassa’s counsel, David Jones, was in court to cross-examine James.

Alassia explained its reasons for not appearing in provincial court in a separate decision from the B.C. Supreme Court, saying to do so would indicate it recognizes the court’s authority to hear the case.

In that case, the firm is fighting the process used to serve a summons. The court supported a justice of the peace’s certification of the summons in a ruling last fall, but Alassia has filed an appeal.

Lawn said if convicted, the firm and vessel could face significant fines, with maximum penalty for some of the violations set at $4 million.

First responders, investigators from Transport Canada and environmental experts are expected to testify in the coming weeks, Lawn said.

The trial is scheduled to continue until April 20.

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Langley toddler with sun ‘allergy’ waiting for bone marrow transplant

Charlie Lock, 2, needs treatment to reverse damage caused by rare disorder EPP

Vancouver Giants sign forward Lukas Svejkovsky

The Vancouver Giants’ newest acquisition is being described as “an incredibly skilled… Continue reading

VIDEO: Township fire crews battle blaze in abandoned house

Thursday night fire is latest in a series of empty Willoughby homes to burn

‘Sabrina’ series will film late into the night in Cloverdale

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will be on location at ‘Cerberus Books’ until early Saturday

Thunder down Victoria Shamrocks in Western Lacrosse Association action

Langley team closes the season with two games against Burnaby

BC Games’ Athletes Corner: What’s your favourite pump up song?

Check out what’s playing in the earbuds of BC Summer Games athletes before they compete

RCMP help to save goats from wildfire

The fast-approaching wildfire, sparked Thursday, forced the evacuation of five homes

VIDEO: Near drowning captured on popular B.C. river

Search and Rescue manager says the popular pastime of floating in the summer is inherently dangerous

Crosswalk vandalism leaves black mark for Cowichan as B.C. Games begin

Rainbow crosswalk defaced just days after being painted

Photo gallery: BC Games Day 1

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

UPDATED: Anti-pipeline campers digging in as eviction deadline expires

The City of Burnaby had ordered the Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters out for violating bylaws

Trump was taped talking of paying Playboy model: AP source

Source says former personal lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded discussion prior to 2016 election

VIDEO: How to throw a frisbee

Ultimate frisbee player Amy Mackay shows off the proper technique

Site C dam project plagued by problems: expert

E. Harvey Elwin expresses concern about internal BC Hydro and government documents

Most Read