Container Ship Owner Hammered for Pollution Misdeeds
DC Federal Court plea agreement requires Singapore-based Pacific International Lines, to pay US$2.2-million.
The offenses relate to the operation of the company's container shilp M/V Southern Lily 2 in June 2012.
The company previously pleaded guilty to three felony charges that it made false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard and violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships by concealing illegal waste water operations and discharges in a falsified oil record book – a required log in which all overboard discharges must be recorded and operating a vessel in waters of the United States without a functioning oil water separator (a required pollution control device).
“Today’s sentencing is a noteworthy success for the few federal law enforcement agencies charged with enforcing U.S. and international maritime laws protecting the oceans and natural marine resources both around the remote U.S. Pacific Islands and throughout the vast area of the South Pacific,” said Joshua J. Masterson, Special Agent-in-Charge of Coast Guard Investigative Service-Pacific Region. “This case, being the third of its kind since 2011, should send a clear message to those shipping companies and mariners who willfully cut corners and violate the laws enacted to protect the oceans as well as place a much needed spotlight on this region of the South Pacific.”
According to the plea agreement, including a joint factual statement, the company operated the vessel Southern Lily 2 in American Samoa. On June 22, 2012, the vessel was boarded by the U.S. Coast Guard for a routine inspection. During the inspection the Coast Guard discovered that the ship’s oil water separator was not functioning. The Coast Guard learned that the device had not been functioning for several months and, at the direction of the chief and second engineer, the oily waste water had been being discharged overboard in violation of international law. The illegal discharges and the fact that the oil water separator did not function was not entered in the ship’s oil record book as required by federal law.
Additionally, under the terms of the plea agreement, Pacific International Lines was placed on probation for three years, during which time it must operate under the terms of a government-approved Environmental Compliance Plan. The plan includes review by an independent auditor of any of Pacific International Lines ships—including the Southern Lily 2—that trade in the United States.
In addition to the $2 million criminal fine, the judge also ordered Pacific International Lines to pay $200,000 to support community service projects. The projects will be administered by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation asnd the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.