Nova Scotia

Safety charges follow barge sinking

The owner of the Shovel Master, a barge that sank off Nova Scotia nearly two years ago, has been charged with safety violations.

The owner of the Shovel Master, a barge that sank off Nova Scotia nearly two years ago, has been charged with safety violations.

Atlantic Towing Ltd., an Irving company, is charged under the Canada Shipping Act with "taking actions that might jeopardize the safety of a vessel or of persons on board."

If convicted, the company faces a maximum penalty of $1 million.

The Shovel Master capsized in November 2008 while it was being towed from Saint John to Halifax. The barge, which was carrying 70,000 litres of diesel, sank in rough seas off Yarmouth.

Three crew members had to jump into the water to be rescued by a military helicopter.

The Crown claims the barge didn't have a current ship inspection certificate. In fact, the last certificate expired in 2001, according to pre-trial court documents released Wednesday.

Atlantic Towing is also accused of violating the terms of that expired certificate, which required the barge to stay within 15 nautical miles from shore and be unmanned while under tow.

The company is fighting the charges. A three-week trial is set to start in February.