Ship operator fined $250k for using improper fuel

A shipping company with offices in New York will pay a criminal fine of $250,000 and spend a year on probation after U.S. Coast Guard inspectors discovered one of its vessels used fuel with an excessive sulfur content.

According to officials at the U.S. Department of Justice, between Jan. 3, 2017, and July 10, 2018, the M/T Ocean Princess, managed by Ionian Management Inc., operated within the U.S. Caribbean Emissions Control Area using fuel that contained excessive sulfur on 26 separate occasions.

The fuel was petroleum that the crew transferred from cargo tanks into bunker tanks under the authorization of Ionian. It was then used to power the 371-foot-long vessel, U.S. government officials said.

The fuel exceeded the 0.10 percent sulfur by weight maximum.

“The sentence imposed on this commercial vessel manager for intentionally violating environmental laws designed to protect the air quality of the United States sends a strong message that the United States will not tolerate such violations and will hold violators accountable,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division said.

Lily Shipping Ltd. owned M/T Ocean Princess

Lily and Ionian were previously sentenced to pay a combined criminal fine of $3 million, serve a three-year period of probation and implement an Environmental Compliance Plan.

Tyler Amon, special agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Enforcement Program in the Virgin Islands, said the agency is committed to ensuring the shipping industry continues to comply with laws designed to protect air quality.

The EPA worked with the Coast Guard to conduct the investigation.

“Oceangoing vessels emit hazardous air pollutants or air toxins that are associated with adverse health effects impacting populations living near ports and coastlines,” Amon said.

U.S. District Court Judge Wilma A. Lewis imposed the sentence on Nov. 1 in St. Croix.