A federal court in Maryland has reportedly sentenced a Liberian-registered shipping company to pay a $2.4 million criminal fine after it entered a guilty plea to a felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. United States v. Cardiff Marine Inc., No. 11‑58 (D. Md. 2/23/11). In addition to the fine, the company must serve three years’ probation and implement an environmental compliance plan that includes audits by an independent third-party auditor.
According to court documents, an investigation of the ship, following a crew member’s complaint, confirmed that an illegal system on the ship discharged the vessel’s waste oil tanks to a valve that opened directly to the ocean. None of the illegal discharges had been recorded in the oil record book, as required by law. The ship also failed to produce to investigators a document called the daily sounding record, which tracked how much waste oil, sludge and bilge water was in each waste tank on a daily basis. Three crew members testified that over a six-month period several discharges of waste oil, sludge and other material were routed through the illegal system to the sea. See DOJ Press Release, February 23, 2011.