Shipping Firms to Pay $10.4 Million in Pollution Penalties

MarineLink.com
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Two shipping firms based in Germany and Cyprus were sentenced today in federal court in Newark, N.J., to pay a $10.4 million penalty for felony obstruction of justice charges and violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships related to the deliberate concealment of vessel pollution from four ships that visited ports in New Jersey, Delaware and Northern California, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in New Jersey and Delaware, the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Coast Guard announced.

Columbia Shipmanagement (Deutschland) GmbH (CSM-D), a German corporation, and Columbia Shipmanagement Ltd. (CSM-CY), a Cypriot company, were sentenced to pay a $10.4 million criminal penalty, $2.6 million of which will be directed to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund community service projects selected to help restore the coastal environment of New Jersey and Delaware hit by Hurricane Sandy.  The remaining $7.8 million is designated as a criminal fine.  In addition, the companies were placed on four years of probation.  During probation, the companies will be subject to the terms of an environmental compliance plan that requires outside audits by an independent company and oversight by a court appointed monitor.  The shipping firms admitted that four of their ships - three oil tankers and one container ship - had intentionally bypassed required pollution prevention equipment and falsified the oil record book, a required log regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard.  The case is the largest vessel pollution settlement in either New Jersey or Delaware.

The companies previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton on March 21, 2013, to six counts involving three vessels in New Jersey and four counts involving one ship in Delaware.  The counts consist of violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to maintain an accurate oil record book, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, the investigation into the M/T King Emerald was launched on May 7, 2012, after several crew members provided cell phone photos and other evidence to Coast Guard officers conducting a routine inspection.  The King Emerald was engaged in various types of illegal discharges of bilge waste dating back to at least 2010. The defendants admitted that illegal discharges of both sludge and oily bilge waste were discharged at night off the coast of Central America, including a discharge within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Costa Rica where a national park is located.  The ship’s second engineer pleaded guilty previously and was sentenced in Newark on April 3, 2013.

The Delaware investigation began in October 2012 after several crew members of the M/T Nordic Passat provided the Coast Guard with a thumb drive containing photographs and video showing how illegal discharges had been sent overboard through the ship’s sewage system.  They also alleged that sludge had been put into the ship’s cargo tanks and that logs showing sludge had been incinerated onboard had been falsified.  The charges involving the M/V Cape Maas stem from a whistleblower report to the Coast Guard when the ship visited the port in San Francisco.  The whistleblower provided a video showing the operation of the oily water separator pumping overboard without the use of the oil content monitor to detect and prevent oil from being illegally discharged.

Violations on a fourth ship, the M/T Cape Taft, which was anchored in New York waters and destined for New Jersey, were uncovered just weeks before the March plea, after the ship disclosed problems to CSM-D.  An internal investigation revealed that the ship’s oily water separator had been used improperly for some time.  Instead of sensing a sample of overboard discharges, it was instead flushed with fresh water by the crew.  The ship’s oil record book was revised by CSM-D to reveal 16 instances where it was false.  The defendants cooperated with the investigation and provided the government with video replays of the oil content monitor showing when the crew had “tricked” the sensor with fresh water.

This prosecution was made possible through the combined efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard Districts 1, 5 and 11; Coast Guard Sectors New York, Delaware Bay, and San Francisco; Coast Guard Investigative Service; Coast Guard Office of Maritime and International Law; and Coast Guard Office of Investigation and Analysis.

The United States is represented by Kathleen P. O’Leary, Assistant U.S. Attorney in New Jersey; Richard Udell, Senior Counsel, and Stephen Da Ponte, Trial Attorney, of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division; and Edmond Falgowski, Assistant U.S. Attorney in Delaware.  Assistance was also provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

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

Legal

Flirting with Default, Argentina Enjoys Oil Drilling Boom

Holders of Argentina's  defaulted debt and their supporters have warned the country risks being frozen out from international capital markets unless it finds

Mexico's Senate OKs Bills Expanding Power of Energy Regulators

Mexico's Senate gave general approval on Monday to legislation laying out expanded powers for energy regulators, part of the fine print needed to implement a constitutional

South Korea Police: Body May Be Ferry Disaster Fugitive's

South Korean police are trying to confirm the identity of a body they believe may have been the fugitive head of the family that owned the operator of a ferry that capsized in April,

Environmental

Boscalis to Get IJsseldelta 'Room for the River' Contract

Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) say that the Dutch Department of Public Works and the province of Overijssel intends to award the contract for the IJsseldelta polder to them.

ICS Calls for Harmonized ECA Inspections

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is encouraging the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control to ensure that a harmonized approach to PSC

Discussion: Cruise Ship Waste Management

Ship to Shore flexible Recycling DEERBERG-SYSTEMS sets the course for the future of waste management onboard cruise ships With a round table discussion in Hamburg,

Coast Guard

Coast Guard Foundation's “BUY A BRICK” a Big Success

The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that its Sault Ste.

Italy Rescues 1,800 Refugees, Five Bodies Recovered

Italy's navy said it rescued nearly 1,800 migrants in overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean over the weekend, and a merchant ship recovered five bodies from a

DNV GL Launches Regulatory Requirements Roadmap for Floaters in US

In the first comprehensive overview of its kind, DNV GL has mapped out what is necessary to be in compliance with US Coast Guard (USCG) requirements to operate FOIs, FSOs and FPSOs in US waters.

Vessels

Third RAmparts 2500 Tug for SMIT-Rebras

Keppel Singmarine BrasilLtda. (KSMB), of Navegantes, Brazil has recently completed the construction of the SMIT Panará, the third of a series of six Robert Allan Ltd.

Russia Doubts France Will Cancel Warships Sale

A senior Russian official said on Monday he doubted France would cancel its sale of warships to Russia, despite coming under pressure from other Western leaders

Port of Boston: A Vital Economic Engine

Port of Boston is Vital Economic Engine and Job Generator for Region. The Port of Boston generated $4.6 billion in 2012 and more than 50,000 jobs are supported by the port,

P&I Clubs

UK Club Rating Upgraded by S&P to A (Stable)

Leading P&I club, the UK Club informs it has received the full report from Standard and Poor (“S&P”) explaining its reasons for upgrading the Club's financial rating.

American Club Expands E-Learning Offering

The American P&I Club has added to its library of e-learning modules released in cooperation with IDESS IT in the Philippines. The new module covers compliance

South Korea Ferry Survivors Demand Answers

Teenage survivors of South Korea's worst maritime disaster in 20 years, many wearing yellow bracelets, walked out of classrooms on Tuesday and marched on parliament

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics 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: 0.2817 sec (4 req/sec)