Four shipping companies and a captain are to stand trial in Brisbane over last year's Pacific Adventurer oil spill off the coast of Queensland.
The ship was sailing north from Port Kembla in New South Wales last year when it hit rough weather off the south-east Queensland coast.
More than 30 containers fell overboard, piercing the ship's fuel tanks and 270,000 litres of oil spilled into the ocean. Authorities had to effect a major clean-up of Moreton and Bribie islands and Sunshine Coast beaches in March, 2009.
Swire Shipping, Swire Navigation, Blue Wind Shipping, China Navigation and Pacific Adventurer
master, Capt Bernardino Gonzales Santos, each faced a count of discharging oil into the ocean.
The 23,737 dwt general cargo ship's captain will also face a charge of failing to notify authorities in the wake of the incident.
The Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning was told that all had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A trial date is yet to be fixed.
Capt Santos faces a maximum fine of $350,000 if found guilty of the charges, while the four companies also face a maximum fine of $1.75m if the charges are proven.
Yesterday, the court heard that faulty lashings and maintenance failures had contributed to the containers falling overboard.
Swire Shipping chief Richard Kendall told journalists outside the courthouse yesterday that the company would "vigorously defend" itself and Capt Santos.
The 1991-built Pacific Adventurer
has since been renamed Pacific Marine,
Lloyd's List Daily Commercial News reported.