German ship operator, engineer plead guilty to falsifying records
German-based ship management firm Reederei Karl Schlueter GmbH & Co. KG (RKS), and Chief Engineer Nikola Ilijic, pleaded guilty on June 16 to a charge they falsified the oil record book pertaining to oil bilge waste discharges from the vessel MSC Uruguay.
Oily bilge waste may be properly disposed of by offloading it to a licensed hauler and disposal facility at port for a fee, or by discharging it overboard after the oil is separated out in the oily water separator.
U.S. law further requires ships to accurately record each disposal of oily bilge in the ship’s oil record book, and to have the book available for the U.S. Coast Guard within U.S. waters.
“The company and chief engineer used the ocean as a dumping ground for waste oil and tried to cover it up,” said David M. Dillon, special agent in charge for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a statement.
On or about Jan. 25, the MSC Uruguay arrived in the Port of Philadelphia. Based in part on a letter from some of the ship’s crew, the Coast Guard conducted an inspection of the ship and found evidence indicating that the ship discharged bilge waste directly overboard on or about Dec. 2, 2007, Jan. 3 and Jan. 4. The information further alleges that on or about Jan. 25, MSC Uruguay presented its oil record book to the Coast Guard and the book falsely indicated that bilge water was properly processed through the ship’s pollution prevention equipment on Dec. 3 and Jan. 4.
The Justice Department said RKS was immediately sentenced to pay a $1 million fine and $200,000 to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation as community service. RKS was further sentenced to three years probation and to implement an environmental compliance plan as a condition of probation.