MSC Ship Management to pay $10 million for oil pollution
MSC Ship Management (Hong Kong) Ltd. was sentenced in Boston Wednesday to pay a $10 million criminal fine after pleading guilty to an oil pollution cover-up.
In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department said it was the largest fine involving a single vessel charged with deliberate pollution and the largest criminal fine paid by a defendant in an environmental case in Massachusetts' history.
The containership operator was also ordered to pay an additional $500,000 for a community service project administered by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
MSC Ship Management admitted to charges filed by the Justice Department that a specially fitted steel pipe, called a “magic pipe,” was used on board the “MSC Elena,” a 30,971-ton containership, to bypass required ship pollution prevention equipment and discharge oily waste overboard. The Coast Guard discovered the device during an inspection in Boston Harbor on May 16, 2005.
The Justice Department said company officials in Hong Kong ordered the crew to lie to Coast Guard inspectors and destroy documents.
The department also noted that MSC Ship Management discharged about 40 tons, or 10,640 gallons, of sludge during a five-month period in 2004 through a three-piece bypass pipe made on board the ship. An even larger volume of oily waste was released through a rubber hose and portable pump.
The “MSC Elena” made regular transatlantic voyages between ports in Europe and the United States, the Justice Department said.