DOJ: Vessel Operator Admits Pollution
United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr., announced that, yesterday, CLEOPATRA SHIPPING AGENCY, LTD., a Greek vessel management company, pled guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and was sentenced to pay a $300,000 fine and serve a three-year term of probation requiring implementation of an environmental compliance program.
U.S. District Judge James J. Brady ordered that $150,000 of the fine be awarded to the CLEOPATRA employee who reported the violation to the United States Coast Guard. In pleading guilty, CLEOPATRA agreed to the following facts. CLEOPATRA managed and operated the M/V Stellar Wind, an ocean-going bulk carrier. From on or about August 13, 2011, through on or about August 26, 2011, during the vessel’s voyage from Spain to the United States, the Chief Engineer of the vessel caused discharges of bilge water and other oily waste directly into the ocean without using an oily water separator as required by federal and international law. The Chief Engineer, who was required to record all discharges in an Oil Record Book (ORB), did not record the illegal discharges in the ORB. In addition, he made three false entries in the ORB indicating that the oily water separator was used to discharge when in fact it was not. The falsified ORB was later presented to the United States Coast Guard during an inspection of the vessel, while the vessel was moored in the Mississippi River in Ascension Parish. During the inspection, a low-level engine department crew member reported the discharges and the record falsification to a Coast Guard officer.
“This plea and sentence are another great example of the Coast Guard’s unwavering commitment to protecting the marine environment. Coast Guard personnel in Baton Rouge, and around the country, are trained to uncover these violations, and we will continue to work with our partners at the Department of Justice to hold these companies who break the law and endanger the marine environment accountable for their actions. I applaud the tireless efforts of the Department of Justice and our own investigative and legal staffs for their work on this case,” said Rear Admiral Roy A. Nash, Eighth Coast Guard District Commander.
“The oceans must be protected from shipping companies that look to cut corners by dumping waste improperly, said Ivan Vikin, Special Agent-in-Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Louisiana. “The defendant in this case knowingly discharged oily waste from their vessel into the open water and tried to cover it up. Today’s sentence demonstrates that the U.S. government will not tolerate the flagrant violation of its laws.”
The investigation of CLEOPATRA was conducted by the United States Coast Guard and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel M. Patricia Jones.