UK shipping company fined $.75m over illegal discharges

A UK shipping company pleaded guilty in US federal court and has been sentenced to pay a $750,000 criminal fine over illegal discharges from one its vessels while off the coast of Florida.

Norbulk Shipping UK Ltd, a company based in Glasgow, U.K., and operator of the reefer cargo ship M/V Murcia Carrier, pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an accurate oil record book in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and providing false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) concerning the vessel’s garbage record book.

The company was sentenced to pay a criminal penalty of $750,000 and placed on three years of probation by the Honorable Joseph H. Rodriguez, the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced today.

According to documents and statements made in court, on April 27, 2014, crew members of the M/V Murcia Carrier dumped several barrels of hydraulic oil overboard at the direction of the vessel’s Chief Mate, Valerii Georgiev. The dumping occurred in international waters off the coast of Florida while the vessel was in transit from Costa Rica to New Jersey. The discharges were not recorded in either the ship’s oil record book or garbage record book, as required by the APPS. In an effort to conceal the dumping, crewmembers presented a U.S. Coast Guard boarding team with a false oil record book and garbage record book when the vessel arrived in Gloucester, New Jersey.

While Norbulk and Georgiev dispute the number of barrels dumped into the sea, the government believes it was approximately 20 barrels.

“Illegal discharges at sea damage our environment and endanger those who work in and enjoy our coastal waters,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “As we have shown before, shipping companies that engage in these criminal practices and deliberately discharge oil – and then lie about it to the Coast Guard – will be prosecuted.”

“Our oceans are life giving and life sustaining resources that our country and our world depend upon,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, said. “Ignoring perfectly legal and feasible ways to dispose of waste, the defendants chose instead to dump directly into the ocean. Today the company will pay a price for this inexcusable and criminal act.”

On June 15, 2015, Georgiev pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an accurate oil record book in violation of APPS. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 8, 2015.

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