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No conviction for oil spill master

No conviction for oil spill master
An Australian court dismissed charges against the master of the coal carrier that leaked around 64 tonnes of fuel oil into the Port of Newcastle in 2010 harming around 50 pelicans.


The NSW Land and Environment Court heard that fuel oil passed through a rust hole between two adjoining tanks and was subsequently discharged from a ballast tank. No one on board noticed the leak which was detected by wharf operators over four hours later.

Justice Terry Sheahan accepted that the master of MV Magdalene could not have done anything to avoid the spill, and although the charge was proved, he was dismissed with no conviction recorded.

The German owners of the Liberian-registered vessel were fined A$1.2 million after earlier paying A$1.7 million in clean-up costs.

Australia’s Marine Pollution Act sets maximum fines of $10 million for companies and $500,000 for individuals. In this case, the fine of A$1.8 million was cut as a result of the company’s guilty plea, co-operation, remorse and the amount already paid in clean-up costs.

In 2012, PTTEP was fined A$510,000 for the Montara oils spill, Australia’s worst oil spill to date, which resulted in approximately 4,750 tonnes of oil leaking into waters off Western Australia. On this occasion, Magistrate John Lowndes aggregated some charges into a single penalty and set the final figure after giving a 25 per cent discount because the company pleaded guilty to the charges.

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