Another case of poor seamanship and poor judgment being made into a criminal matter by the US EPA and Justice Department. The pilot is in jail, and the operating company is on the hook for $10 Million, and could have been fined more. The laws on environmental pollution are clear and the penalties are pretty stiff. Remember that when you are making a go/no go decision. Somebody in an office may bark at you about a delay via the mixed blessing of modern communications, but he wonâ€™t be at the license hearing or the trial. When things go really into the tank, you are alone. That is well known to all of us mariners, and we have to accept it as part of our jobs and responsibilities.
BUT, that big word, when things go down the tubes, make sure that your log keeping is complete, accurate, and truthful. Failure to report an incident will get you more severe penalties than the original problem. Falsifying something will get you moved from a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge who can lift your license and fine you, to a Federal District Court on a criminal charge. Tell the truth up front, and take your lumps. A cover up attempt is a lot worse to deal with when it collapses, and it will.