Shipping Company Fined $2 Million in a Multi-District Case for Concealing Illegal Discharges of Oily Water into the Atlantic Ocean
Chief Engineer of Vessel Also Convicted
Diana Wilhelmsen Management Limited (DWM), a Cyprus-based company that operates several commercial vessels, was sentenced today in federal court before U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Beach Smith in Norfolk, Virginia, after pleading guilty to violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships that had occurred on the Motor Vessel (M/V) Protefs.
DWM pleaded guilty to two felony offenses in two judicial districts – the Eastern District of Virginia and the Eastern District of Louisiana. DWM was sentenced to pay a fine of $2 million placed on probation for a period of four years, and ordered to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan as a special condition of probation.
In pleading guilty, DWM admitted that crew members onboard the M/V Protefs, a 40,230 gross-ton, 738-foot ocean-going commercial bulk carrier, knowingly failed to record in the vessel’s oil record book the overboard discharge of oily bilge water from mid-April 2020 until before the vessel arrived in Newport News, Virginia, on June 10, 2020. The vessel also arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, on June 1, 2020 with a knowingly false oil record book.
DWM admitted that the crew on the vessel used an emergency de-watering system to illegally discharge oily water directly into the ocean from the vessel’s bilge holding tank, duct keel and bilge wells. Those discharges were not recorded in the oil record book as required. The Chief Engineer, Vener Dailisan, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors about the existence of a Sounding Log which is routinely sought by inspectors in order to ascertain the accuracy of the oil record book. Dailisan was sentenced to a fine of $3,000 and placed on probation for two years.
“The United States will vigorously enforce laws that protect our ocean resources,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Holding shipping companies to account when wastes are unlawfully discharged overboard, and covered up through falsified documents, is vital to protecting our environment.”
“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 Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia. “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.”
“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 at risk.”
Senior Trial Attorney Kenneth Nelson of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Kosky of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana, prosecuted the case. This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Coast Guard Investigative Service Chesapeake Region and Coast Guard Sector Virginia.