Federal government suing shipping company for costs to


The federal government is taking the Woodward Group of Companies to court, alleging one of the company’s ships caused an oil spill in Postville in 2020 and asking the company be ordered to pay $28,484 for the cost of cleaning it up.

But the marine shipping company says it’s not responsible for the spill and plans to fight the matter in court.

Court documents filed June 2 say company vessel Tuvaq W was involved in an incident on or around June 8, 2020 that spilled oil into the water.

In a statement, Woodward Group of Companies vice-president and general counsel Frederick Constantine said the claim is related to a “mystery spill in Postville.” 

“We deny any responsibility for the spill and intend to defend the claim in court,” Constantine said in an email. 

Constantine said Woodward will have no further comment while the matter is before the court. The Nunatsiavut government also said it won’t comment on the case because it’s an active file with the Department of Justice. A court date has not been set.

Documents previously obtained by CBC News say the spill was reported on the morning of June 8, 2020. At 8 p.m. AT on the same day, the Airborne Maritime Service saw an estimated 2,870 litres remaining in the water inshore near Postville. The following day, the service saw an estimated 980 litres remaining on the surface. 

Colourful puddles show water and a type of oil on sand.
The sheen washed up on the shores of Postville. (Submitted by Lavern Broomfield)

Oil sheen stretched for kilometres in June 2020

In the documents obtained by CBC News, Woodward’s Oil told Environment and Climate Change Canada that there was a sludge coming from the Postville dump that could have been responsible. Woodward’s Oil told CBC News in June 2020 that the sheen was used motor oil that ended up in the harbour through sewage drains. The federal government’s court filing disputes the claims.

Glenn Sheppard, the Inuit mayor — or Angajukkâk — of Postville at the time of the spill, said the community has been waiting for three years to see something done about the spill.

A man in a shirt and ball cap stands in front of water and mountains.
Former mayor Glenn Sheppard says the people of Postville deserve answers. (CBC)

“People in Postville deserve answers and this report of who’s responsible and what the consequences are is fine and dandy but we want to send a message out to whatever level of government is responsible that this type of action should not continue, should never have happened in our community,” Sheppard said. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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