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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Civil Penalties News

MARAD Makes Inflation Adjustments to civil Penalties

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a rule adjusting its maximum civil penalties for inflation. Violations of regulations related to commercial instruments and maritime liens and to unlawful transfer of a documented vessel may now result in a civil penalty of $12,000, rather than $11,000. Violations of regulations related to requirements for trustees of mortgaged vessels and vessel interests and purchasers of documented vessels under order of a district court may now result in a civil penalty of $30,000, rather than $27,500. Source: HK Law

USCG Announces Changes to Civil Penalty Policies

The Coast Guard has expanded the scope of the Notice of Violation (NOV) program, building upon the success of the existing program in place since 1995. The NOV program is an expedited civil penalty assessment process that allows parties to pay the proposed penalty without further administrative process. The Coast Guard has also recently announced that it will be adjusting its fines and other civil monetary penalties for inflation. The changes to the monetary civil penalties for inflation are mandated by Congress at least once every four years. The changes to the NOV program took effect on January 5. Since its implementation, the NOV program has been used as the civil penalty process for small oil spills and minor pollution prevention regulation violations.

MMS Publishes Offshore Violations Summary

The Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) published in the Federal Register a summary of civil penalties paid last year by oil and natural gas companies for violations occurring in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The summary identifies the company name, the specific offshore activity in violation of the law, and the fine paid. The total penalty amount paid in 1998 by 27 companies was $1.3 million. The MMS is responsible for ensuring safe and clean offshore operations in the OCS. The civil penalty process is designed to encourage companies to comply with the statutes and regulations by pursuing, assessing, and collecting penalties. OPA 90 expanded and strengthened MMS' authority to impose penalties for violating its regulations.

FMC Penalties and Subsequent Violations

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued an Order providing, among other things, that, when determining civil penalties, the Commission is without authority to consider subsequent violations by the respondent. The Shipping Act of 1984, as amended, allows the Commission, when determining civil penalties, to consider 'such other matters as justice may require', but this does not make subsequent violations relevant to a civil penalty assessment. World Line Shipping, Inc. and Saeid B. Maralan (AKA Sam Bustani) Source: HK Law

USCG Civil Penalty Appeal Decisions

The U.S. Coast Guard has begun posting redacted versions of its Civil Penalty Appeal Decisions on its Coast Guard Legal page on the Internet located at http://www.uscg.mil/legal . Clicking on "Civil Penalty Appeals" will they lead you to a menu of cases involving bridges, COLREGS, commercial vessel violations, marine casualties, negligence, pollution, recreational vessels, and uninspected passenger vessels. Source: HK Law

Two Ship Operators Cited for OFAC Violations

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Civil Penalties Enforcement Information

Corps of Engineers Civil Penalties Rise

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is adjusting its civil penalty rules to account for inflation. Effective July 26, the maximum Class I civil penalty that the agency may assess under the Clean Water Act and the National Fishing Enhancement Act will increase to $11,000. 69 Fed. Reg. 35515 (HK Law)

FAMA Discusses Penalties of Unregistered Vessels in Texas Waters

The Texas Oil Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) Program has circulated the April 2003 edition of its Facility and Maritime Affairs (FAMA) newsletter. This edition contains, a reminder that civil penalties will be assessed against any unregistered vessel found in Texas waters. Texas mandates that a vessel required to have either a vessel response plan (VRP) or a Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) register with OSPR prior to entry into Texas waters. Recommended civil penalties for failing to register start at $500 for each violation.

FMC Assesses Civil Penalty of $1.5 Million Against Foreign NVOCC

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) released its Report and Order affirming Initial Decision finding that a non-vessel-operating common carrier (NVOCC) based in Taiwan had violated the Shipping Act of 1984 on various occasions and assessing a civil penalty of $1,530,000. The NVOCC was found to have knowingly and willfully obtained ocean transportation at less than applicable rates by accessing service contracts to which it was neither a signatory nor an affiliate of a signatory. Docket No. 01-10

EPA Proposes to Increase Civil Penalties

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would, if adopted, increase the maximum civil penalty for most violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and other environmental statutes from $27,500 to $32,500. The increase is intended to account for inflation. Comments on the NPRM should be submitted by August 4, 2003. Source: HK Law

FMC Assesses $4M Civil Penalty

An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has assessed a civil penalty in the amount of $4,082,500 against Sea-Land Service, Inc. The fines were assessed after the carrier was found to have violated the Shipping Act of 1984 on 149 shipments by charging shippers the inapplicable rates on cargo in 20-foot containers when it moved the cargo in 40-foot containers. The assessment is an initial decision, to which exceptions may be filed. Docket No. 98-0

BOEMRE Ups OCSLA and OPA Penalties

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced that the maximum civil penalty rate for Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) violations will increase from $35,000 to $40,000 per day; and from $25,000 to $30,000 per day for Oil Pollution Act (OPA) financial responsibility violations. The increases coincide with adjustments in inflation, as required by OCSLA and OPA. The Obama administration has requested that Congress pass legislation to further raise the maximum civil penalty rates beyond the rate of inflation. “Even with the inflation adjustment, which is the limit of our current regulatory authority, our civil fine authority is inadequate. That view is shared by energy companies operating on the OCS.

Oil Firm Penalized by DOJ for Jones Act Violation

Alaska Oil Company Agrees to Pay $10 Million in Penalties to Settle Federal Claims for Violating the Jones Act. Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that Furie Operating Alaska LLC (“Furie”), a company whose focus is exploration and production of natural gas and oil in Cook Inlet, has agreed to pay $10 million to satisfy a civil penalty originally assessed against it by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) for violating the Jones Act. Furie was penalized when…

Washington-Civil Penalties for Pollution

The Washington State Department of Ecology has summarized civil penalties it assessed during the second quarter of 2006 for pollution incidents. Among others on the list were three marine-related parties. Two of the penalties indicate the possibility that the Department has become too zealous in its mission. In June, the captain of the vessel Nu C was fined $9,000 after approximately 575 gallons of diesel and hydraulic oil spilled into Grays Harbor when the vessel crashed into the North Jetty at Ocean Shores on February 12. In May, a tank barge owner was fined $1,000 after its barge spilled 109 gallons of heavy fuel oil into the Strait of Georgia when it sustained damage from a tug during docking.

WQIS Holds Covered, No Premium Increase

The United States Coast Guard announced that effective January 23, 2010, they will be increasing fines and other civil monetary penalties to account for inflation in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996. Water Quality Insurance Syndicate (WQIS) announces that as an accommodation to their Assureds, they are automatically holding covered – at no additional premium – the new limits under Coverage D (limited fines and penalties) until the policy expires. The adjusted maximum penalty amount authorized by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act and provided for in Coverage D is now $190,000.

EPA – Civil Penalty Inflation Adjustment

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule adjusting for inflation its civil monetary penalties for violations of regulations that EPA enforces. Among other things, it raises the maximum civil penalty for violation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations from $32,500 to $37,500.  The changes come into effect on January 12, 2009.  73 Fed. Reg. 75340  (December 11, 2008). (Source: Holland & Knight)

FMC Compromise Agreements

On Nov. 24 the Federal Maritime Commission summarized compromise agreements reached with various ocean transportation intermediaries with respect to alleged violations of the Shipping Act of 1984. Civil penalties in the amount of $242,500 were recovered. The agreements were reached with licensed and unlicensed ocean transportation intermediaries ("OTIs"), both non-vessel-operating common carriers ("NVOCCs") and ocean freight forwarders. Caribbean Freight Systems Inc. Caribbean Freight Systems Inc. ("Caribbean Freight") is a licensed OTI located in Miami, Florida. It was alleged that Caribbean Freight obtained and allowed others to obtain…

Air Draft Alert: Bayonne Bridge Struck Twice this Year

Bayonne Bridge: Wiki CCL credit Lamune

The Bayonne Bridge is undergoing a two-year construction project to raise the roadway an average of 65 feet. The Captain of the Port, New York-New Jersey says that it has been struck twice in the past 4 months. The Captain of the Port, New York-New Jersey, has issued a reminder about the importance of providing accurate information clearance information, and warns that civil penalties may be pursued against any vessel owner, master or person in charge that provides inaccurate information that contributes to a bridge strike.

Reminder Stresses Importance of Accurate Clearance Information

The Captain of the Port, New York-New Jersey, has issued a reminder about the importance of providing accurate clearance information, and warns that civil penalties may be pursued against any vessel owner, master or person in charge that provides inaccurate information that contributes to a bridge strike, GAC said in its daily Hot Port News alert. The Coast Guard Sector New York Marine Safety Information Bulletin 01-14 states, “The Bayonne Bridge is undergoing a two-year construction project to raise the roadway an average of 65 feet. The associated demolition activities and work platforms outside of the navigable channel present serious safety considerations for mariners. Despite previous Coast Guard advisories, the Bayonne Bridge has been struck twice within the past four months.

BP Bid to Cut Gulf Spill fine Denied

A U.S. judge on Thursday rejected BP Plc's attempt to reduce the maximum civil fine it could face for its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, leaving it potentially liable to pay $13.7 billion under the federal Clean Water Act. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans agreed with the federal government that the maximum civil penalty that BP could face is $4,300 per barrel spilled. BP had sought a $3,000 per barrel maximum, equal to a maximum $9.57 billion civil fine. Barbier has not decided how much BP should pay, and it is unclear when he will. Setting a fine is the last step in a civil trial overseen by Barbier to determine responsibility and penalties for the April 20, 2010 blowout of the Macondo oil well, which killed 11 workers and caused the largest U.S.

USCG Levies $100,000 Civil Penalty

USCG hearing officers imposed a preliminary assessment for $100,000 in a civil penalty case against foreign tankship Kriti Amethyst for violations of U.S. marine pollution regulations. In June 1998, nearly 200 barrels were found washed up on South Texas beaches. Some of the drums contained hazardous substances; however, most were found to be empty. The USCG MSO and Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission led response efforts over a two-week cleanup period. The USCG also followed up with an investigation to identify the person or persons responsible for the drums. Labels found on some of the drums led to the identification of M/V Kriti Amethyst as the responsible party for 30 of the drums. Kriti Amethyst is a 600-ft. Greek tankship owned by Avin International Corp. in Greece.

FMC ALJ Assesses $7.9M Penalty

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) released an Initial Decision of the Administrative Law Judge issuing a cease and desist order and assessing a civil penalty in the amount of $7,900,000 against a non-vessel operating common carrier based in Hong Kong that was found to have violated the Ocean Shipping Act of 1984 on 120 occasions over a two-year period. Docket No. 02-06

FMC Declines Reconsideration of $1.5M Penalty

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued an Order

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