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Greek shipper fined $2 million for illegal discharge caught on camera

Dec 13, 2018 10:58 AM

A crewman's video shows oily waste flowing from the tanker Nave Cielo

Courtesy U.S. Department of Justice

The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Justice Department:

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday announced that Navimax Corp., incorporated in the Marshall Islands with its main offices in Greece, was sentenced to a $2 million fine by a federal district court for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and obstructing a Coast Guard investigation.  

The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships is a codification of international treaties known as the MARPOL Protocol. To ensure that oily waste is properly stored and processed at sea, all oceangoing ships entering U.S. 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 Nave Cielo, a 750-foot-long oil tanker. Prior to a formal inspection on Dec. 7, 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard boarded the vessel near Delaware City when a crewmember gave the officers a thumb drive containing two videos, depicting a high-volume discharge of dark brown and black oil waste from a 5-inch pipe, located 15 feet above water level. Subsequent investigation during a more comprehensive inspection on Dec. 7, 2017, disclosed that the approximately 10-minute discharge occurred on Nov. 2, 2017, in international waters, after the ship left New Orleans en route to Belgium. During the Coast Guard boarding on Dec. 7, 2017, crewmembers presented the ship’s oil record book, which did not record this discharge.

“The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships helps protect the precious ocean and marine resources of the United States from harmful pollution, and those who knowingly violate this law will be held accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with the Coast Guard 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 U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware David C. 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 Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay.  “Personnel at Sector Delaware Bay, Marine Safety Detachment Lewes, Del., 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 million fine immediately and placed the company on probation for four years.  

This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay and the Coast Guard Investigative Service. The case was prosecuted by trial attorney John Cashman in the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmond Falgowski.

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