Puerto Rican shipping company fined in pollution cover-up case

Puerto Rican-based Epps Shipping Company was sentenced today in federal court to pay a $700,000 fine for violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and making false statements to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors.

The sentencing is in connection to the Epps owned and operated M/V Carib Vision, a commercial ship that was engaged in the transportation of molasses throughout the Caribbean region.   On Nov. 6, 2010, a Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in the port of San Juan, P.R. revealed that the vessel’s Oil Water Separator and other pollution prevention equipment was inoperable. The investigation revealed that prior to Nov. 6, 2010, the crew of the vessel used the emergency bilge discharge system to dump its oily waste directly overboard and failed to record such discharges in the vessel’s Oil Record Book.

“This sentence puts the international shipping industry on notice that there are serious consequences for violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and making false statements to the United States Coast Guard,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “For its criminal violations of the law, Epps will pay a significant criminal penalty, serve five years of probation, institute an environmental compliance plan designed to prevent further violations, and will be subject to independent monitoring.  Epps also will fund projects to protect coral reefs in Puerto Rico.”

The $700,000 penalty includes a $100,000 payment towards community service projects to rehabilitate and protect coral reefs in Guanica Bay, Puerto Rico.   In addition, the company was placed on five years of supervised probation and will have to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan to continuously monitor and evaluate pollution prevention from any ship it owns or operates.

Via DOJ