11 May 2018

Yet Another Shipping Line Fined for 'Magic Pipe' Polluting Oily Waste Water Scheme  

Serial Offender Nets His Company a Million Dollar Fine

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Shipping News Feature US – JAPAN – A Japanese shipping company that delivered steel products to Wilmington, North Carolina, has been convicted and sentenced for obstruction of justice and falsification of an Oil Record Book to cover-up intentional oil pollution from the Vessel Atlantic Oasis. Nitta Kisen Kaisha, which owns and operates the 33,457 dwt bulk carrier, has been ordered to pay a $1 million fine and placed on a three year probation by US authorities for the latest attempted 'magic pipe' scam. Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Wood, commented:

“This case demonstrates that those who pollute our oceans and deliberately mislead US Coast Guard Officials will be brought to justice. The Department of Justice will continue to work with our federal law enforcement partners to aggressively prosecute criminals that harm the environment.”

The company admitted that its engineers failed to document the illegal discharge of oily wastes from the vessel’s fuel and lubrication oil purifier systems, as well as discharges of oily bilge waste from the bilge holding tank and from the vessel’s bilges. During a US Coast Guard inspection of the vessel on May 17, 2017, a junior engineering crewmember provided information to the inspectors about how the oily wastes were being discharged by the order of Chief Engineer Youn. The crewmember also showed US Coast Guard inspectors where the hoses that were used for the discharges were hidden.

Chief Engineer Jihnyun Youn, who had previously been convicted and sentenced for falsification of the vessel’s oil record book, lied to the inspectors about the existence of a Sounding Log, which is typically used in the industry to record the fluid levels of various tanks in the engine room. By the end of the inspection, Chief Engineer Youn had admitted to ordering the illegal discharges and admitted that there was a Sounding Log.

Nitta was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000,000; placed on probation for a period of three years; and further ordered to implement a court-approved comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan as a special condition of probation, which will be audited throughout probation. Chief Engineer Youn was placed on probation for one year and ordered to pay a fine of $5,500. United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

“While the charges in this case rest on the failure of the ship’s crew to properly document the discharge of oily bilge waste, the heart of this case is the illegal discharge itself and the damage that action did to our environment – particularly our spectacular seashores and waterways – is a critical necessity in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

“We trust that the fines and penalties imposed in this case will act as a deterrent to anyone who would treat our environment as a dump-ground.”

This case is just the latest in a series which is seemingly endless despite the severity of the potential punishments. Operators are required to ensure they do not pollute the oceans and inland waterways by ensuring both ballast and other water waste do not enter the environment before they have been suitably purged. We have been recording similar cases for over five years, and typing a suitable keyword (such as magic) into the News Search box at the head of the page will reveal the frequency such cases are prosecuted by the relevant authorities.

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