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Norwegian ship lands in Victoria court for illicit offshore dumping

A Norwegian tanker ship has been snared in the long, albeit slow arm of Canadian law for alleged illegal dumping in the Pacific Ocean more than two years ago.

The M/T Champion, a ship belonging to Champion Tankers A/S out of Bergen, Norway, and an individual named Robert Ruzic, didn’t appear in Victoria provincial court yesterday, despite being scheduled for a first appearance on four charges related to illegal dumping at sea.

Ruzic, the ship, Champion Tankers and its parent company, Champion Shipping A/S, face two charges of improper disposal of a substance at sea, and two charges of improper deposit of substances harmful to migratory birds.

The ship allegedly dumped fish oil and an unidentified “oily substance” about 135 miles west of Vancouver Island, in waters frequented by migratory birds, and within the exclusive economic zone of Canada, according to court documents.

The charge document doesn’t indicate how much liquid the ship is accused of dumping. All charges are dated July 29, 2010, and were sworn by federal Crown in July this year.

Agent for the federal Crown Rick Fowler told the court the case was “unusual" and that the ship probably never landed in Canada. He noted it wasn’t surprising that representation for the accused didn’t appear in court and said “discussions are ongoing” between the federal Crown and counsel for Champion Tankers.

The Canadian Coast Guard, which would have likely recorded the alleged offenses, and Environment Canada, the agency that investigated the case and forwarded its evidence to the Crown, haven’t responded to requests for more information.

Champion Tankers website said the company has 11 tanker vessels and transports vegetable oils, palm oils, molasses and clean petroleum products.

The case is due back in Victoria provincial court on Oct. 11 for a plea hearing.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

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