2019-07-31

Sale of Cormorant in Port of Bridgewater blocked

by Gayle Wilson

The Federal Court of Canada has dismissed a motion that would have allowed the sale of the Cormorant.

The Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF) posted the news on social media on July 26.

"We opposed the sale because the ship has no market value, is a #pollution risk and liability, and it is not in the public interest to allow the sale," SOPF explained on Twitter.

The SOPF is a Canadian fund created from levies collected from oil cargo companies. It provides compensation for damages caused by oil spills from ships.

On its Twitter post, SOPF indicated it has paid more than half a million dollars for pollution cleanup when the former navy vessell "listed and leaked #oil in the Have [sic] River."

It indicated it will "continue the Court process to recuperate the cost from the polluter."

However, Ryan Gauvin, Legal Counsel for SOPF, explained to LighthouseNOW that who exactly the polluter is remains to be determined.

"Our primary focus here is to push forward to that key issue. Until we can determine the owner of the vessel, or the owners as the case may be, we can't determine the question of liability. And that's the core sort of dynamic of our mandate," he said.

"We've compensated the victim of the pollution, in this case the Canadian Coast Guard, and now we're subrogated to the tune of half a million or more. And the key issue to the administrator currently is to determine ownership of the vessel and then liability," he emphasized.

Gauvin said SOPF wouldn't comment on how its own legal endeavours relate to the fact the Canadian Coast Guard is assessing the vessel and may ultimately be removed under the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act (WAHVA) , which was due to come into force at the end of July.

Jay Straith, the lawyer for the Port of Bridgewater, said: "My view is, I've watched what Minister Jordan's done and so on. And with all the political grandstanding it's obvious that they want to appear to be doing something.

"It's those classic lines, 'We're from the government. We're here to help.' God help us all."

Straith says they have to be prepared to continue on with the litigation , but meanwhile are waiting to hear from the Transport Department what it is going to do.

"We proceed to trail which would be probably in 2021."

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