A German shipping company has plead guilty and will pay $1 million for covering up illegal dumping of oily waste water from one of its vessels into the Great Lakes.
The U.S. Justice Department said shipping company MST, operator of the MV Cornelia, has pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) for failing to maintain an accurate ship record about the disposal of oil-contaminated waste.
According to the guilty plea and documents filed in court, from February 2015 through October 2015 the MV Cornelia had experienced significant leakages of oily waste-water and as a result was accumulating a substantial volume of machinery space bilge water.
On at least ten occasions, the ship’s Chief Engineer and/or Second Engineer instructed engine room crew members to transfer machinery space bilge water from a dirty bilge tank to a clean bilge tank, and then proceed to discharge the oily waste-water from the supposed clean tank. On at least one of these occasions, the discharge occurred while the ship was in the Great Lakes in May 2015.
Each time the Chief Engineer then intentionally failed to record the transfers and discharges in the Cornelia’s Oil Record Book (ORB), giving the impression that all of the oily waste-water had been properly handled and disposed.
The vessel’s ORB, containing the omissions and false entries, was eventually presented to U.S. Coast Guard Port State Control inspectors during a November 3, 2015 call at the Port of Duluth to load grain for transport to Africa.
As a condition of the guilty plea, MST will be required to pay an $800,000 criminal fine to the United States, in addition to a community service payment of $200,000 to support the protection and preservation of Lake Superior and the Lake Superior watershed. MST will also serve three years of probation.