Two German shipping companies have agreed to pay a $1.2-million criminal penalty for violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. United States v. Nimmrich Und Prahm, No. 12-5409 (S.D. Tex. plea agreement 11/2/12). The companies, which own and operate the cargo vessel M/V Susank, pleaded guilty in federal court to concealing the illegal dumping of oily bilge wastewater at sea and to two counts of obstruction of justice. According to court records, the chief engineer and other crew members on board the vessel repeatedly discharged the wastewater into the ocean from August 2011 to March 2012 by using a hose that bypassed the vessel’s oily water separator.
The chief engineer and crew members also welded a pipe connection to the ballast water ejector system of the vessel. The chief engineer then falsified the vessel’s oil record book to conceal the dumping from U.S. Coast Guard inspectors. The chief engineer pleaded guilty September 12, 2012, to one criminal charge and was sentenced to a $1,000 fine and to one year of probation. The court awarded $67,000 to each of the three whistleblowers who were on the vessel and assisted in the criminal investigation. See DOJ Press Release, November 12, 2012.