Greek Shipping Company Fined $2 Million for Illegal Discharges Caught on Camera

Mike Schuler
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December 13, 2018

File photo shows the Cayman Islands-flagged tanker Nave Cielo. Photo: van Broakhoven

Greek shipping company Navimax Corporation has been sentenced to pay a $2,000,000 fine by a federal district court in the United States for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and obstructing a Coast Guard investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Navimax is incorporated in the Marshall Islands and has its main offices in Greece. 

According to court documents and statements made in court, Navimax operated the Nave Cielo, a 750-foot crude oil tanker registered in the Cayman Islands. 

Prior to a formal inspection on December 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 showing a high-volume discharge of dark brown and black oil waste from a five-inch pipe, located 15-feet above water level. The two videos are below:

A subsequent investigation and inspection on December 7, 2017, determined that the approximately 10-minute discharge occurred on November 2, 2017, in international waters, after the ship left New Orleans en route to Belgium. 

During the Coast Guard boarding on December 7, crewmembers presented the ship’s Oil Record Book, which did not record this discharge.

The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships is a codification of international treaties known as the “MARPOL Protocol,”  and ensures that oily waste is properly stored and processed at sea. The law requires that all ocean-going 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.

“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 district court ordered Navimax to pay the $2,000,000 fine immediately and placed the company on probation for four years.  

“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.”

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