Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Yet Another Polluting Shipping Company Fined Millions of Dollars

Italian Vessel Owner Lied to Cover Oily Waste Discharges
Shipping News Feature
US – Italian shipping company, d'Amico Shipping Italia, has pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships by discharging oily waste and other pollutants in US waters and then lying about it. Under terms of the plea agreement, d'Amico will pay a $4 million penalty, of which $1 million will go to projects that support clean-up of marine pollution, preservation of aquatic life, and restoration of shorelines around Newark Bay

The shipping company will also be placed on probation for four years, during which time the company will be subject to the terms of an environmental compliance programme that requires outside audits by an independent company and oversight by a court-appointed monitor

The charge to which d’Amico pleaded guilty related to the deliberate concealment of vessel pollution from the 40,801 dwt handy product tanker, the M/T Cielo di Milano, which visited ports in New Jersey multiple times, as well as ports in Maryland and Florida. In the time since, d’Amico sold the vessel in July 2018 for a consideration of $8.025 million

The company admitted that from August 2014 through January 2015, the crew of the M/T Cielo di Milano used two different methods to illegally dispose of oily waste, both of which involved discharging it from the vessel’s sewage holding tank into the sea. Some of the discharges took place within the exclusive economic zone, that is, within 200 nautical miles of the United States.

The company also admitted that two different Chief Engineers were involved in the illegal discharges and the intentional falsification of the Oil Record Book to cover up those discharges. One Chief Engineer falsified the Oil Record Book to state that bilge water had been processed through the vessel’s pollution control equipment when, in fact, it had not.

The investigation found that crew routinely hid the equipment used to conduct the discharges when the vessel entered port. During a Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in Bayonne, New Jersey, in January 2015, the Chief Engineer and Second Engineer lied to inspectors and told lower-level crew members to lie as well.

After the Coast Guard departed the vessel, the Chief Engineer also destroyed a notebook containing tank soundings by burning the pages in the vessel’s boiler flame in order to conceal the notebook from the Coast Guard.

The proposed $4 million penalty includes $1 million in organisational community service payments to restore the coastal environment of New Jersey. The plea agreement directs funds to environmental projects that will be selected by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support the clean-up of marine pollution, preservation of aquatic life, and restoration of the shorelines around Newark Bay.

Photo: Credit - Jens Taxwedel