US clamps down on illegal discharge

Dec 20 2018

This week, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that Navimax Corp, incorporated in the Marshall Islands with its main offices in Greece, was fined $2 mill by a US federal district court for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and obstructing a US Coast Guard investigation.

This act is a codification of international treaties such as MARPOL, the DoJ said. 

To ensure that oily waste is properly stored and processed at sea, all ocean-going ships entering US ports must maintain an Oil Record Book in which all transfers and discharges of oily waste, regardless of the ship’s location in international waters, are fully recorded.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Navimax operated the 2007-built LR1 ‘Nave Cielo’.  Prior to a formal inspection on 7th December, 2017, the USCG boarded the vessel near Delaware City when a crew member gave the officers a thumb drive containing two videos, depicting a high-volume discharge of dark brown and black oil waste from a five-inch pipe, located 15 ft above water level. 

Subsequent investigation during a more comprehensive inspection on that date, disclosed that the around 10 minute discharge occurred on 2nd November, 2017, in international waters, after the ship left New Orleans for Belgium. 

During the USCG boarding, crew members presented the ship’s Oil Record Book, which did not record the discharge.

“The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships helps protect the precious ocean and marine resources of the US from harmful pollution, and those who knowingly violate this law will be held accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the DoJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with the USCG and our other law enforcement partners to ensure that individuals and corporations alike comply with the nation’s environmental laws.”

“The defendant violated environmental laws that protect our marine environment from harmful pollution,” said US Attorney for the District of Delaware David Weiss.  “The conviction and criminal fine, reinforced by a four-year term of probation, during which the defendant’s fleet of ships will be monitored, ensures that defendant is held accountable.  The message to the shipping industry is clear: environmental crimes at sea will not be tolerated.”  

“I am exceptionally pleased with the outcome of this case,” said Capt Scott Anderson, Commanding Officer of USCG Sector Delaware Bay.  “Personnel at Sector Delaware Bay, Marine Safety Detachment Lewes, DE, the Coast Guard Investigative Service Philadelphia Office, and legal staffs dedicated countless hours conducting an extensive and detailed investigation and processing the case.  Outcomes like this help protect the environment by holding operators accountable for their actions.”

The district court ordered Navimax to pay the $2 mill fine immediately and placed the company on probation for four years.  


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