Press release: SOPF HAS COMPENSATED VICTIMS OF OIL POLLUTION FROM SHIPS FOR 30 YEARS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 24, 2019

THE SOPF HAS COMPENSATED VICTIMS OF OIL POLLUTION FROM SHIPS FOR 30 YEARS

OTTAWA – The Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund (the Fund) today celebrates 30 years of compensating victims of oil pollution from ships. Since its creation in 1989, the Fund has received more than 409 claims and paid $24 million in compensation following the discharge – or the risk of a discharge – of oil in Canadian waters from ships of all types.

“Thirty years ago today, Canada established a compensation regime whereby victims of pollution can be compensated directly by the Fund, which then takes action against the polluter, while protecting taxpayers”, said Anne Legars, the Fund’s Administrator. “Since 1989, guided by the polluter pays principle, the Fund has been involved in 48 court cases, and as a result of its increased efforts over the last three years, it has recovered $2.6 million through the courts and out of court, more than ever before!”

Here are a few more key numbers:

  • The Canadian Coast Guard remains the Fund’s main claimant, with close to 7 out of 10 claims submitted to the Fund;
  • 1 out of every 4 claims involves a derelict or abandoned vessel or a wreck;
  • The largest amount claimed in a single year was in 2017-2018, when the Fund received 32 claims totalling $7 million;
  • The highest compensation amount paid to a single claimant was in 2018, when the Fund paid $4.2 million to the Canadian Coast Guard following the sinking of the Chaulk Determination in Trois-Rivières;
  • Canadian victims received $12 million from the International Funds following the spill of 200 tons of fuel oil from the tanker Rio Orinoco, which sank off Anticosti Island in 1990;
  • 2017-2018 was an historic year in terms of the diversity of claimants.

Throughout the year of celebration, the Fund will maximize its communication efforts in order to increase awareness of the Fund and continue to promote access to justice and compensation.

“We are actively working to inform all potential claimants of the Fund’s existence and the compensation they are entitled to, particularly by publishing more tools aimed at facilitating claims”, said Anne Legars, who is inviting all Canadians to participate online in the Fund’s anniversary conference scheduled for May 28, 2019 by visiting the following link:  https://freeman.streamme.ca/sopf-cidphn2019.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION / POUR PLUS D’INFORMATION: Jannie Bédard Guillemette: 613-998-8813

jannie.guillemette@sopf-cidphn.gc.ca

http://sopf-cidphn.gc.ca@sopf-cidphnLinkedIn-sopf-cidphn

SOPF-19 LogoEN

Bill C-86

Bill C-86 was passed in Parliament and received Royal Assent on December 13. The new amendments to the Fund’s regime have now come into force, and provide for:

  • The removal of the Fund’s per-occurrence limit of liability (which was $174 million);
  • The authorization to temporary transfer funds from the Consolidated Revenue to the Fund in the event that the Fund is depleted;
  • The alignment with international conventions of the Fund’s liability for claims for economic losses (notably losses of revenue) caused by oil pollution;
  • The Fund’s liability for the costs and expenses incurred by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans or any other person in respect of preventive measures when the occurrence for which those costs and expenses were incurred has not yet created a grave and imminent threat of causing oil pollution damage;
  • The provision of up-front emergency funding out of the Fund to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for significant oil pollution incidents;
  • An expedited, simplified process for small claims (up to $35,000) to the Fund.

Our website and information material will be updated accordingly within the next few weeks.

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The Canadian Compensation Regime

Canada flag and the IOPC Funds logo

The Canadian Compensation Regime for ship-source oil pollution damage is based on the polluter-pays principle as well as on many international conventions. It covers damage caused by oil pollution (or anticipated pollution) in Canadian waters (including the exclusive economic zone), as long as the pollution emanates from an identified or unidentified ship or vessel.

Role of the Fund

The Fund may be used as a fund of last resort or of first resort; the choice is that of the claimant.

Fund of Last Resort. The claimant may file a claim against the owner of the ship responsible for oil pollution damage (up to the owner’s limit of liability) and can then submit to the Fund a claim for compensation for damages or for a portion of damages that haven’t been reimbursed to him (this could be due to the fact that the limit exceeded the owner’s liability limit, or because the owner was not financially solvent to compensate the claimant).

Fund of First Resort. The claimant may submit his claim directly to the Fund. The Administrator has the obligation of investigating and assessing the claim. If the claim is established, the Administrator will offer a settlement to the claimant, who will then have 60 days to accept the offer.

2017-2018 File Portfolio (Incidents & Claims)

During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the Fund managed a portfolio of 88 files, 56 claim files (32 new claims and 24 carried over from 2016-2017), and 32 incident files (8 new incidents and 24 carried over from 2016-2017).

Contributors to the regime

The contributors to the regime are the oil shippers and receivers in Canada. Contributors have not paid contributions since 1976 as the Fund is fully capitalized.

Contributors who are oil receivers must however file an information return no later than February 28 if the volume of contributing cargo for the preceding calendar year exceeded

  • 150,000 metric tonnes of persistent oil, or
  • 17,000 metric tonnes of non-persistent oil

(refer to Marine Liability and Information Return Regulations: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2016-307/index.html)

This information return allows to determine Canada’s annual contribution to the International Fund and Supplementary Fund (this contribution is then paid directly by the Fund’s Administrator). It also allows Canada to collect the data needed in order to ratify the Convention on Hazardous and Noxious Substances.

Information returns should be filed via the portal https://stats.tc.gc.ca/HNS/Login.aspx, which is managed by Transport Canada.

Before filing their return, contributors must request the creation of an account by contacting the following address: TC.HNS-SNPD.TC@tc.gc.ca.

How to File a Claim

Our Claims Manual is currently being revised.