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Kirby fined $2.2 million for British Columbia fuel spill

Jul 17, 2019 10:23 AM

The tug Nathan E. Stewart ran aground after a crewmember fell asleep while alone on watch

Courtesy Heiltsuk Nation

(BELLA BELLA, British Columbia) — Texas-based Kirby Corp. has been fined $2.2 million ($2.9 million Canadian) after pleading guilty to a diesel spill from a tugboat that ran aground and sank in a First Nation's fishing territory on B.C.'s Central Coast, CBC News reported.

The decision was handed down Tuesday in provincial court in Bella Bella, B.C.

Nathan E. Stewart spilled about 29,000 gallons of diesel and heavy oil in October 2016. Last year, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada found that a crewmember missed a planned course change because he fell asleep while alone on watch.

In an open letter to Kirby CEO David Grzebinski, Heiltsuk Nation Chief Marilyn Slett called the fines "a drop in the bucket for a multibillion-dollar company."

Kirby pleaded guilty to three of nine charges in the criminal case. A civil case for damages filed by the Heiltsuk Nation is ongoing.

The guilty pleas are related to separate counts under the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and the Pilotage Act for the fuel spill that damaged both fish and birds, and for failing to have a pilot aboard the vessel.

In a prepared statement, Kirby said it would comply with the sentence. 

"We sincerely regret this incident, and we have amended our operating procedures, training, auditing, promotion protocols and equipment to help reduce the potential for future accidents," the company said.

Click here to read the story.

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