NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A shipping company based in Cyprus will pay a $2 million fine for hiding that it was unlawfully discharging oily water into the Atlantic Ocean.
Diana Wilhelmsen Management Limited (DWM) pleaded guilty Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
DWM will be on four years of probation, a fine of $2 million, and supervision under an environmental compliance plan.
“We are firmly committed to enforcing federal environmental laws and will not tolerate conduct that pollutes our water, imperils natural ecosystems, and endangers our wildlife,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh. “As this case demonstrates, those who contaminate our most precious natural resources by illegally dumping hazardous waste into the ocean will be held accountable, especially when they falsify their records to avoid detection.”
DWM operates several commercial vessels. Between mid-April 2020 and June 10, 2020 when the vessel arrived in Newport News, crew members onboard the M/V Protefs, a 40,230 gross-ton, 738-foot ocean-going commercial bulk carrier, failed to record the overboard discharge of oily bilge water.
The notation should have been made in the vessel’s oil record book.
The vessel also visited New Orleans, Louisiana June 1, 2020 with a “knowingly false oil record book,” the release said.
The vessel’s crew used an emergency de-watering system to illegally discharge the oily water into the Atlantic Ocean from the bilge holding tank, duct keel, and bilge wells.
Chief Engineer Vener Dailisan, 47, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors about the existence of a sounding log. That log is “routinely sought by inspectors in order to ascertain the accuracy of the oil record book.”
“The commercial shipping industry is essential to commerce in this region, but their work must ensure they do not neglect their professional and legal obligations,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “Today’s announcement emphasizes that our office along with our federal partners are committed to holding accountable all parties whose criminality jeopardizes our environment and places the public and the ecosystem in Southeastern Louisiana at risk.”