Mystery Spill Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue (2013)

LOCATION: Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal

Case number: 120-678

Early in the morning of July 14, 2013, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) was alerted about an oil spill occurrence in the lock area of the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal, which connects Lac St. Louis and Lac des Deux Montagnes near Montreal. An oil slick of about 50 feet by 200 feet was observed. It was estimated to contain about 100 litres of an unidentified oil product. Personnel from the Montreal Fire Department Service attended and conducted an on-site inspection. Along with the local police, the fire department personnel visited several businesses and restaurants in the vicinity and finally ruled out a land source as the cause of the oil spill.

The area is managed by Parks Canada as a national historic site. During the summer months, the canal and locks are busy with tourist and transient pleasure boats. At the time of the spill occurrence, there were more than 15 pleasure craft alongside and seven or so other pleasure vessels in the area of the oil slick. The Montreal police restricted the transit of pleasure craft in the immediate area until the oil spill was cleaned up. The lock was closed by Parks Canada. Boats in the area were checked by the local fire department, but the source of the pollution could not be determined.

The Coast Guard assumed the role of On-Scene Commander and contracted Urgence Marine Inc. to evaluate the situation and prepare an action plan to address the necessary measures to clean up the oil slick. The situation was evaluated and Coast Guard approved the proposed response plan. The response measures had to take into consideration the amount of oil involved; the normal evaporation rate for diesel in the environmental conditions; the national historic site; the potable water intakes; and the potential ecological impacts of oil in the shoreline vicinity. As a result, Urgence Marine Inc. boomed the oil spill and collected the pollution. On July 15, Parks Canada carried out an inspection of the site and shoreline with Urgence Marine Inc. No further oil pollution was visible; therefore, at 1600 hrs Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal lock was re-opened for pleasure craft.

On June 16, 2015, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO/CCG) filed a claim with the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund for costs and expenses in the amount of $14,498.41, pursuant to the Marine Liability Act (MLA). Once again, the claim was submitted near the end of the prescription period.

On July 30, 2015, after investigation and assessment of the claim, the Administrator found the full amount of $14,498.41 to be established. The Administrator made a final offer to Coast Guard for the established amount, plus interest, as full and final settlement pursuant to the MLA. Enclosed with the registered letter of offer was a Release and Subrogation Agreement for execution on behalf of the Coast Guard. The letter also noted that the amount of interest will be calculated upon receipt of acceptance of the offer.

On September 18, 2015, a letter of notification was received that the CCG accepts the settlement offer. It did not, however, include the executed Release and Subrogation Agreement as requested. The Coast Guard advised that the Commissioner is considering options on how to proceed. On September 23, the Administrator informed Coast Guard that he will not proceed with the requisitioning of payment of this claim until he is in receipt of a duly executed Release and Subrogation Agreement.

On July 21, 2016, the Administrator processed payment of the claim including interest to the Coast Guard in the amount of $15,857.00. This being a mystery spill, a responsible party could not be identified and the Administrator concluded that all reasonable effort to identify the responsible party had been taken and consequently on August 10 closed the file.