Matson Navigation Co. will pay $3 million in fines after admitting it illegally dumped bilge water that may have been contaminated with waste oil, the U.S. Attorney in Seattle said. San Francisco-based Matson, a unit of Honolulu-based Alexander & Baldwin Inc. specializing in moving cargo between the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii, will also be placed on probation for three years, U.S. Attorney Kate Pflaumer said in a release. Matson will pay $500,000 each to settle cases in San Francisco and Seattle and $2 million to settle a case in Los Angeles, with half the proceeds funding environmental and law enforcement programs at coastal national parks in California and Washington state.
In several cases from 1996 through 1998 crew members on the Matson ship Lihue falsely stated that they had removed waste oil before discharging bilge water, even though the ship's pollution control equipment was out of order at the time. Pflaumer noted that the government had not found any evidence that contaminated oil was actually discharged into the ocean. Matson issued a statement apologizing for what it called "the actions of a few" employees. The prosecution stems from an ongoing probe by the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency, under which Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. paid $27 million in fines in 1999 for illegally dumping oil and chemicals.