South Korean Shipping Company Fined $950,000 in Hawaii Over Illegal Discharges

Photo: MarineTraffic.com
Photo: MarineTraffic.com/William J. Cooke

A a federal judge in Hawaii has sentenced a South Korean shipping company to pay a total of $950,000 for its failure to maintain an accurate oil record book, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, and making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard about dumping oil contaminated bilge water.

U.S. District of Hawaii Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi on Tuesday accepted the guilty plea of South Korean maritime operations company, Doorae Shipping Co., and sentenced the company to pay a fine of $750,000, a community service payment of $200,000, and a term of two years of probation.

Doorae Shipping is operator MT B. Sky, a Vanuatu-flagged oil tanker that is required to use pollution prevention equipment to preclude the discharge of waste oil and oil-contaminated waste water, as well as record any discharges in an oil record book inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to information provided in court, instead of running bilge water through an oil water separator, the Chief Engineer of the B. Sky instead discharged over 500 gallons of oily machinery space bilge water directly into the ocean and failed to record the discharges in the oil record book. 

The Court approved the payment of the $200,000 community service payment, per an agreement between the government and Doorae to be donated to the National Fish and Wildlife Service Foundation to fund projects that preserve and enhance coral reefs and reef ecosystems in Hawaii.

The Court also took the guilty plea of the Chief Engineer of the B. Sky, Jeung Mun, to one charge of causing the maintenance of a faulty oil record book in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. The Court scheduled Mun’s sentencing for July 27, 2016.

“All maritime companies, including those that provide refueling services on the open seas, must respect the laws and the obligations of their trade, which exist to prevent the spoiling of oceans and marine habitat,” said Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii. “This office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who violate our nation’s laws enacted to protect our oceans and environment.”

“The oceans and marine wildlife must be protected from shipping companies that look to cut corners by dumping untreated waste,” said Jay M. Green, Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criminal enforcement program in Hawaii. “The defendants in this case falsified their log books in an attempt to conceal their crimes, but thanks to the thoroughness of Coast Guard and EPA investigators and the persistence of the United States Attorney’s Office, the defendants got caught. Today’s guilty pleas demonstrate that the American people will not tolerate the flagrant violation of U.S. laws.”

The case was investigated by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the EPA, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson.