U.S. DOJ: Environmental Crime Conviction

U.S. DOJ
Monday, November 05, 2012

German Shipping Companies Convicted in Texas and Alaska for Environmental Crimes; Companies to Pay $1.2 Million for Covering up Marine Oil Pollution and Obstruction of Justice.
 


WASHINGTON – Two German shipping companies pleaded guilty today in federal court in Houston to criminal charges that they concealed the illegal dumping of oil at sea from U.S. Coast Guard inspectors.

 
Nimmrich & Prahm Bereederung and Nimmrich & Prahm Reedrei, the operator and owner of the commercial cargo vessel M/V Susan K, will pay a $1.2 million dollar criminal penalty, $200,000 of which will go to the National Marine Sanctuaries Fund as a community service payment for projects aimed at preserving and restoring the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary located off the Texas coast.  As a condition of probation, all vessels owned or operated by the defendants will be prohibited from entering U.S. ports or waters for five years.

 

 Federal and international law requires that cargo vessels like the M/V Susan K dispose of oily bilge waste water by using an oil water separator (OWS) or disposing of the waste water at shore facilities.  The law also requires that the crew record the disposal of oily waste water in an oil record book that is presented to the Coast Guard during a port inspection.

According to the plea agreement, the chief engineer and other crew members on board the vessel repeatedly discharged oily bilge waste water from the vessel into the ocean from before Aug. 1, 2011, to March 4, 2012, by using a hose that bypassed the vessel’s OWS.  The chief engineer then falsified the vessel’s oil record book to conceal the dumping from Coast Guard inspectors when the vessel entered the U.S. ports in Alaska on Jan. 24, 2012, and then in Houston on March 4, 2012.

 
“Illegal discharges of oil at sea by commercial shippers is an all too common practice, and today’s sentence shows that there are serious consequences for it,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The defendants will pay a significant penalty and be barred from U.S. waters for deliberately concealing from U.S. authorities their illegal dumping of oil from Alaska to the coast of Texas while at sea.  Vessel companies that deliberately violate the laws enacted to protect the oceans will be pursued and prosecuted.”

 
“The outcomes of these cases demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Justice to protecting our marine environment,” said Rear Admiral Roy A. Nash, Eighth Coast Guard District Commander.  “We continue to ensure that companies and individuals who break the law and endanger our natural resources are held accountable.”

The community service payment to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation will be used to conduct critical monitoring, research and restoration projects in and around Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico.  These projects will include coral reef surveys, especially to collect data on coral spawning events and coral resilience.  They will also include species monitoring projects, such as acoustic tagging of sensitive, threatened and endangered marine species including manta rays and tiger sharks, as well as commercially important species such as red snapper.

According to court documents, the Coast Guard boarded the vessel in Houston on April 6, 2012, after receiving a tip from a lower level crew member about the illegal dumping of oil and found the hose used to dump the oily waste overboard.  During the inspection, the chief engineer lied to the Coast Guard about the hose and the oil dumping and instructed a crew member to lie to the Coast Guard about the use of the hose.  The three whistle blowers on the vessel who assisted in the criminal investigation were each awarded $67,000 by the court.  

Overall, the companies pleaded to two obstruction of justice charges and one violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for the violations in the District of Alaska and Southern District of Texas; the single obstruction of justice charge in Alaska was transferred procedurally to Houston.  On Sept. 10, 2012, the chief engineer of the vessel pleaded guilty to one criminal charge in Texas and was fined $1,000 and sentenced to one year probation.

 

 This case is being investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service. It is being prosecuted by David P. Kehoe, Senior Trial Attorney, Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Gary Cobe, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, and Kevin Feldis, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Alaska.
 

Maritime Reporter September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Legal

MHI to Change Name of Group Company

Effective November 1 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) will change the name of its group company in Singapore from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering & Services Private Ltd.

NAO Announces Financials, Declares Dividend

Nordic American Offshore Ltd. has declared a dividend of $0.45 per share for 3Q2014, as previously announced. This is the same dividend as for the previous two quarters.

Kirby Corp. Announces Record 3Q Results

Record 2014 third quarter earnings per share of $1.34 compared with $1.21 in the 2013 third quarter, which included a $0.08 benefit due to the reduction of the United earnout liability.

Environmental

GAC Starts Hull Cleaning Op'ns in Oman

GAC EnvironHull hull cleaning operations using the brush-and-diver-free HullWiper system starting at the port of Sohar, just outside the Gulf of Hormuz. This

Fukushima Offshore Floating Wind Farm Update

A consortium has been participating in an experimental offshore floating wind farm project sponsored by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry since March 2012.

Wärtsilä Propulsion Equipment for 2 Fishing Vessels

Two new 78 metre purser/trawler fishing vessels being designed and built at Karstensen Shipyard in Denmark will feature Wärtsilä's main propulsion and control equipment.

Government Update

Somali Pirates free Indian Sailors after 4 Years

Somali pirates have freed seven Indian sailors detained for close to four years in exchange for an undisclosed ransom, Somali officials and a maritime monitoring group said on Friday.

Easing US Oil Export Ban Unlikey to Raise Gasoline Prices

A government study on Thursday essentially supported the notion that easing the decades-old restriction on exporting U.S. crude was more likely to lower than raise

Rep. Cummings Receives Maritime Service Award

On Wednesday, October 29, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) delivered keynote remarks at APL Maritime’s Senior Management Conference, and received an award

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Naval Architecture Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2172 sec (5 req/sec)