A federal court has sentenced a Puerto Rican-based shipping company to pay a $700,000 criminal penalty for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and making false statements to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors. Of the $700,000 penalty, $100,000 will be paid to support community service projects rehabilitating and protecting coral reefs in Guanica Bay, Puerto Rico. The company was also placed on five years of supervised probation and will be required to implement a comprehensive environmental compliance plan to continuously monitor and evaluate pollution prevention from any ship it owns or operates.
Court documents indicate that Epps Shipping Co. owned and operated the M/V Carib Vision, a commercial ship engaged in the transportation of molasses in the Caribbean region. On November 6, 2010, the Coast Guard inspected the ship in the port of San Juan. Inspectors determined that the vessel’s oil water separator and other pollution-prevention equipment were inoperable and could not be used to treat the vessel’s oily waste before discharge overboard. The investigation revealed that the crew used the emergency bilge discharge system to dump its oily waste directly into the sea. No discharges were recorded in the ship’s oil record book as required by law. See DOJ Press Release, August 18, 2011.