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Clipper Saturn

M/T Clipper Saturn. Photo: Solvang

Norwegian Shipping Company Convicted of MARPOL Violation in U.S.

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 4928
July 10, 2023

Norwegian shipping company Clipper Shipping has been convicted in U.S. federal court of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and sentenced to pay a $1.5 million fine for discharging oily bilge water from on its vessels in Togo, West Africa. The discharges were then omitted from the Oil Record Book as required by law.

On two occasions in late September and early October 2021, while the MT Clipper Saturn was anchored near Lome, Togo, the Chief Engineer ordered oily bilge water to be transferred into the gray water tank and then discharged directly overboard under the cover of darkness. To accomplish this, a section of piping was temporarily removed and a hose installed onto the eductor system to discharge the gray water tank overboard. The piping was then re-installed and repainted to appear as if nothing had been removed.

U.S. authorities learned of the discharges during a Coast Guard port state control inspection in Houston, Texas, later that October.

“To put it simply, Clipper Saturn wanted to get rid of dirty oily water from their ship. Instead of filtering out the hazardous elements, as required, they decided to cut costs and just release the whole contaminated mess into the sea. Unfortunately for them, they got caught when they docked in Houston,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani of the Southern District of Texas (SDTX).

The case was investigated by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service investigated the case.

“We take seriously the crimes of illegally discharging oily bilge water at sea and falsifying records to obstruct the United States’ ability to investigate those discharges,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The U.S. Coast Guard must be able to rely on truthful records on board ships and the Department of Justice will continue to ensure polluters are held fully accountable.”

In addition to the $1.5 million fine, the company will also implement an enhanced Environmental Compliance Plan on nine vessels as part of the plea agreement.

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service investigated the case.

The Clipper Saturn is registered in Norway and managed by Stavanger-based Solvang ASA.

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