WATCH: Gladstone company fined thousands for 'overflow'
EAST Coast Maritime has been fined $10,000 for a fuel-oil spill during a transfer from a tanker to a vessel at the Curtis Ferry Services wharf at Gladstone Marina.
And former Pacific Conquest skipper Paul Vincent Russell was fined $5000, although he did not attend legal proceedings in Gladstone Magistrates Court.
East Coast Maritime Pty Ltd managing director Daniel Toy pleaded guilty to discharging pollutant into coastal water during a fuel transfer operation at 7.30am on July 18, 2014.
The charge against the Gladstone marine contractor was brought by Department of Transport and Main Roads under the Transport Operations Marine Pollution Act.
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The maximum penalty is $569,000 but DTMR sought a fine of $10,000, citing comparable cases, with no environmental harm done.
In submission prosecutor Samantha Gibson (DTMR) said between 50 and 70 litres of diesel had spilled, "a relatively small amount". It had been quickly contained and cleaned up.
The incident happened 20 minutes into the refuelling. Fuel was seen flowing off the deck into the marina.
The crew of Pacific Conquest had a bunkering procedures checklist.
The ship's master or engineer were required to ensure there was sufficient tank capacity for the quantity of fuel to be loaded by "dipping" the vessel's fuel tanks to check the amount of fuel in the tank and the capacity for the bunkers being received.
"It appears that while the crew had undertaken the necessary pre-start tasks for the transfer operation it failed to monitor or check the tank level during the transfer operation and the tank was filled beyond capacity, causing fuel oil to overflow through the tank breathers on the deck and over the side of the vessel," Ms Gibson said.
However, Ms Gibson said that when detected "the crew responded quickly" by alerting the fuel-truck driver to stop the fuel transfer.
The crew also deployed oil-spill response materials to contain the spill on board the vessel and in the water.
The marina operator was contacted and the Gladstone Ports Corporation "first strike response team" was dispatched to contain the spill.
The company has no prior convictions and co-operated with Maritime Safety Queensland, with Ms Gibson submitting the spill was accidental, resulting from crew error.
Magistrate Melanie Ho imposed the fines and did not record convictions, noting that the contaminant was contained and retrieved quickly from the water.