Prosecution Proceedings Commenced Over Oil Spill in Darwin Harbour


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have commenced legal proceedings against the master and owners of a ship responsible for a large oil spill in Darwin Harbour on 19 August 2016.

The legal proceedings follow a complex, two year investigation by DENR and the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) into the oil spill.

DENR Director Environmental Operations, Mr Peter Vasel, said that the master of the multi-purpose general cargo ship Antung has been charged with the following offences of the Marine Pollution Act and Marine Pollution Regulations:

· Discharging oil into coastal waters resulting in material environmental harm (s14(4) Marine Pollution Act)

· Discharging oil into coastal waters (s14(5) Marine Pollution Act)

· Failing to notify a discharge of oil whilst in coastal waters (s50(1) Marine Pollution Act)

· Failing to make appropriate entry into oil record book as a result of a recordable event (regulation 10(1) Marine Pollution Regulations)

The owners of the Antung have been charged with the first two of these offences.

“We will allege that the master and owners of the Antung caused or permitted oil to be discharged into Darwin Harbour as it was departing East Arm Wharf,” Mr Vasel said.

“In line with expert evidence no other vessel could have been responsible for the oil spill into Darwin Harbour on this particular day, and this will be laid out further in the Northern Territory Local Court.”

The parts of the environment exposed to the oil included mangroves, intertidal mud flats and coastal zones that provide habitat for various marine and bird species such as turtles, mud crabs, spawning fish and the critically endangered Far Eastern Curlew. The incident also caused alarm amongst the community and users of Darwin Harbour, as the oil impacted a very large area.

Mr Vasel said the commencement of legal proceedings will send a message to potential polluters that any incident impacting the Territory’s unique environment will be fully investigated, with matters taken to court when appropriate.

The legal proceedings against the master and owners of the Antung are set to commence on Monday, 1 October 2018.

Anyone with information about any pollution events is reminded to contact the NT EPA Pollution Hotline on 1800 064 567 so they can be investigated and action taken to prevent further harm.

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