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The huge Burnaby oil spill will lead to fascinating and potentially important legal proceedings over the next few years. While we don’t yet know why the excavator didn’t know it was about to dig into a pipeline, likely cases include:

• a Fisheries Act prosecution against one or more parties for discharging fuel into Burrard Inlet, water frequented by fish;

• administrative proceedings, perhaps by the Transportation Safety Board;

a civil suit for the value of the lost oil, perhaps by Kinder Morgan, the owner of the pipeline, against the excavator;

• a class action against both by the neighbours for their out of pocket expenses, property damage and loss of property value (but not damages to health);

• individual civil suits for damages to health, if such have been incurred, since such damages cannot be included in the class action.

Other lawsuits that accompany such spills may include:

• disputes between insurers and their clients, whether Kinder Morgan, the excavator, or the neighbours, and

• a civil claim by the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, for the damage to their traditional clam beds.

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