Thursday, June 9, 2011

Noka Shipping Fined For Pollution Offence in Texas

$900,000 Penalty for Greek Company
Shipping News Feature

USA – Noka Shipping, a Greek-based shipping management company, has been fined $900,000 by a federal court in Corpus Christi for deliberately concealing pollution discharges from the ship directly into the sea and for failing to notify the U. S. Coast Guard of numerous safety hazards on board the vessel. The company was also sentenced to five years probation, which means that all ships owned or managed by Noka Shipping will be barred from entering U.S. ports and territorial waters for five years.

According to the statement from the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), between the 15th of June and the 27th of September last year, engineering officers on board the 29,414 ton cargo ship the M/V Florin used the vessel’s fixed piping system and fire main pump to bypass pollution prevention equipment to discharge oily bilge waste directly overboard into the sea, violating U.S. Federal and international law that requires all ships to properly dispose of oily water and sludge by passing it through a separator aboard the vessel or burning the sludge in the ship’s incinerator.

Federal law also requires ships to accurately record any such disposal in an oil record book, and to have this available for the U.S. Coast Guard when the vessel is within the waters of the United States.

According to the findings of the court, the crew knowingly failed to make the required entries into the oil record book and then falsified the records to conceal the fact that the pollution control equipment had not been used, presenting the faked records to the U.S. Coast Guard during an inspection at the port in Corpus Christi.

The company also failed to repair and report a number of safety issues that had been highlighted by the Coast Guard during a previous inspection, another offence.

“Senior officers allowed hazardous conditions to prevail aboard the M/V Florin and maintained false records that concealed the deliberate discharge of oily waste into the ocean in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice.

“Now Noka will not only pay a significant criminal penalty for breaking laws that help protect our oceans from pollution, but they also will lose the privilege and the profit of conducting commerce in U.S. ports for five years.”