Italian Shipping Firm Sentenced to $2.75 Million Criminal Fine Over ‘Magic Pipe’

The LPG carrier, MT Marigola. File photo (c) MarineTraffic.com/Henk Kowenho
The LPG carrier, MT Marigola. File photo (c) MarineTraffic.com/Henk Kowenho

Italian shipping firm Carbofin S.p.A. has been sentenced to pay an overall criminal penalty of $2.75 million for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships stemming from the use of a so-called ‘magic pipe’ aboard one of its ships.

On April 16, 2014, U.S. Coast Guard inspectors at the Port of Tampa were approached by crewmembers of the Carbofin owned and operated LPG carrier MT Marigola who showed the inspectors a video of the “magic pipe” hooked up between piping leading to the bilge tank and the vessel’s boiler blow down valve. The subsequent investigation revealed that on numerous international voyages during 2013 and 2014, senior members of the crew of the MT Marigola had directed the installation and use of a magic pipe to dispose of sludge, waste oil and oil-contaminated bilge water directly into the sea, bypassing required pollution prevention equipment. As a result, the vessel’s oil record book was knowingly falisified, a clear violation of APPS regulations. The Justice Department reported that the oil record book for the M/T Marigola had been falsified since at least June 16, 2013.

MT Marigola’s Chief Engineer, Carmelo Giano, and the Second Engineer, Alessandro Messore, had previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced for their role in ordering the use of the magic pipe.

The investigation also revealed that illegal oily waste discharges had occurred from two other vessels owned and operated by Carbofin, the MT Marola and MT Solaro. On the MT Marola, a magic pipe was used between on or about December 2012 and April 2013 and on the MT Solaro between on or about February to August 2013.

In December 2014, Carbofin agreed with U.S. Justice Department to plead guilty to three counts of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and pay the $2.75 million criminal penalty. Out of the $2.75 million, $600,000 will be paid to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation for the benefit of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

“We are extremely grateful to the U.S. Department of Justice in supporting the work of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation on behalf of the nation’s marine sanctuaries, including here at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary,” said President and CEO Jason Patlis of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “These funds will go to critical education, research and restoration activities, including deployment of mooring buoys, coral reef restoration and study and mitigation of invasive species impacts.”