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Japanese owner fined $1m for illegally discharging oily waste

Convicted and sentenced for obstruction of justice and falsification of an Oil Record Book to cover up pollution.



Image credit: Pixabay CC0


Updated on 11 May 2018 13:50 GMT

Nitta Kisen Kaisha Ltd was convicted and sentenced on Thursday for obstruction of justice and falsification of an Oil Record Book to cover up intentional oil pollution from the bulk carrier Atlantic Oasis, which delivered steel products to Wilmington, North Carolina.

The Japanese shipping firm, which owns and operates the Atlantic Oasis, admitted that its engineers failed to document the illegal discharge of oily waste from the vessel's fuel and lubrication oil purifier systems, as well as discharges of oily bilge waste from the bilge holding tank and from the ship's bilges.

During a US Coast Guard inspection of the vessel on May 17, 2017, a junior engineering crew member provided information to the inspectors about how the oily waste was being discharged by the order of chief engineer Youn. The crew member also showed U.S. Coast Guard inspectors where the hoses that were used for the discharges were hidden.

Chief Engineer Youn is said to have lied to the inspectors about the existence of a Sounding Log, which is typically used in the industry to record the fluid levels of various tanks in the engine room.

By the end of the inspection, Chief Engineer Youn admitted to ordering the illegal discharges and admitted that there was a Sounding Log.

Nitta was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000,000; placed on probation for three years; and ordered to implement a court-approved comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan as a special condition of probation, which will be audited throughout probation. Chief engineer Youn was placed on probation for one year and ordered to pay a fine of $5,500.

US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon Jr., remarked: "While the charges in this case rest on the failure of the ship's crew to properly document the discharge of oily bilge waste, the heart of this case is the illegal discharge itself and the damage that action did to our environment - particularly our spectacular seashores and waterways - is a critical necessity in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

"We trust that the fines and penalties imposed in this case will act as a deterrent to anyone who would treat our environment as a dump-ground."

Captain Bion Stewart, Commander Coast Guard Sector North Carolina, said: "We respond to and investigate oil and hazardous material releases and discharges, as well as enforce environmental laws to preserve our waters and prevent future spills. We hope the outcome of this case deters future criminal acts that pollute the marine environment."






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