The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice:
(PHILADELPHIA) — Reederei Karl SchlueterGmbH & Co. KG (“RKS”), a ship managementcompany, and Chief Engineer Nikola Ilijic, an officer on a ship operated by RKS, pleaded guiltytoday to a charge they falsified the Oil Record Book pertaining to the commercial vessel M/V MSCUruguay, announced United States AttorneyPat Meehan.
Federal and international lawrequires thatall ships follow pollution regulations that include proper disposal of oily water through an OilyWater Separator on board the vessel. Large vessels generate oily water waste when water mixes inthebottom of thevessel (thebilge),with oilleaked and dripped from themachineryandtheengines’lubrication and fuel systems. Such oily bilge waste may properly be disposed of by off-loading itto a licensed hauler and disposal facilityat port for a fee, or bydischarging it overboard after the oilis separated out in the OilyWater Separator.
Federal law further requires ships to record accuratelyeach disposal of oily bilge water in an Oil Record Book, and to have the Oil Record Book availablefor the U.S. Coast Guard within the internal waters of the United States.
“These laws exist for the protection of our environment and are not ‘guidelines’ to befollowed at someone’s whim,” said Meehan. “This chief engineer and, by extension, the ship’soperator took shortcuts that are unacceptable because of the negative impact on our waterways.”
“This case is an example of the Department’s continued determination to protect ouroceans from marine pollution,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the JusticeDepartment’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We take very seriously our sharedresponsibility with the Coast Guard and EPA to ensure that the international MARPOL treaty andfederal pollution laws are vigorously enforced against those in the international shipping industrywho fail to follow the rules.”
“The company and chief engineer used the ocean as a dumping ground for waste oil andtried to cover that up,” said David M. Dillon, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division. “Those who violate the law and pollute theocean will be vigorously prosecuted.”
“The Coast Guard is committed to aggressive enforcement of US Laws and InternationalRequirements designed to prevent pollution at sea,” said Captain Dave Scott, Commander USCGSector Delaware Bay. “We thoroughly investigate credible reports of alleged illegal discharges ofoil and/or tampering with shipboard anti-pollution equipment or falsifying oil discharge records.We work closely with appropriate state and other Federal law enforcement agencies to prosecuteenvironmental crimes, to promote compliance with these important environmental protectionstatutes.”
On or about January 25, 2008, the M/V MSC Uruguay arrived in the Port of Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, within the internal waters of the United States. Based in part on a letter from someof the crew members of the ship, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted an inspection of the ship anddiscovered evidence indicating that the M/V MSC Uruguay discharged bilge waste directlyoverboard on or about December 2, 2007, January 3, 2008, and January 4, 2008. The dischargeswere made using a hose to bypass the vessel’s pollution prevention equipment, specifically theOily Water Separator.
The information further alleges that on or about January 25, 2008, the M/VMSC Uruguay presented the ship’s Oil Record Book to the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Oil RecordBook falsely indicated the bilge waste was properly processed through the ship’s pollutionprevention equipment on December 3, 2007, and January 4, 2008.
INFORMATION REGARDING THE DEFENDANTSNAMEADDRESSAGE OR DATE OFBIRTHReederei Karl SchlueterGmbH & Co. KGRendsburg, GermanyNikola IlijicRijeka, Croatia58 years oldRKS was immediately sentenced to pay a $1,000,000 fine and $200,000 to the NationalFish & Wildlife Foundation as community service. RKS was further sentenced to a three yearperiod of probation and to implement an Environmental Compliance Plan as a condition ofprobation.
The case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard, Coast Guard InvestigativeService, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, and isbeing prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Grieb, and Trial Attorneys Lana N.Pettus and Colin L. Black, at the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and NaturalResources Division, Environmental Crimes Section.