Shipping Company Fined $750,000 For Environmental Crimes
CAMDEN, N.J. – Norbulk Shipping UK LTD, a company based in Glasgow, United Kingdom, and operator of the vessel M/V Murcia Carrier, pleaded guilty today to failing to maintain an accurate oil record book and providing false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard concerning the vessel’s garbage record book, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division announced.
Immediately following the guilty plea in Camden federal court, the company was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to pay a criminal penalty of $750,000 and placed on probation for three years.
“Illegal discharges at sea damage our environment and endanger those who work in and enjoy our coastal waters,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “As we have shown before, shipping companies that engage in these criminal practices and deliberately discharge oil – and then lie about it to the Coast Guard – will be prosecuted.”
“Our oceans are life giving and life sustaining resources that our country and our world depend upon,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, said. “Ignoring perfectly legal and feasible ways to dispose of waste, the defendants chose instead to dump directly into the ocean. Today the company will pay a price for this inexcusable and criminal act.”
“Marine environmental protection is one of the Coast Guard’s primary missions,” Capt. Benjamin Cooper, the Sector Commander at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, said. “The Coast Guard takes marine pollution seriously and works cohesively with our partner agencies to hold those who violate international law accountable for their actions. We anticipate the results of this case will deter future brazen illegal oil discharges into the sea.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) requires vessels like the M/V Murcia Carrier to maintain an oil record book in which all transfers and disposals of oil-contaminated waste, including the discharge overboard of such waste, must be fully and accurately recorded. Vessels like the M/V Murcia Carrier also must maintain a garbage record book that fully and accurately records the discharge of all garbage into the sea from the vessel.
On April 27, 2014, crew members of the M/V Murcia Carrier, at the direction of Chief Mate Valerii Georgiev, dumped overboard several barrels containing hydraulic oil. While Norbulk and Georgiev dispute the number of barrels dumped into the sea, the government believes it was approximately 20 barrels. The dumping occurred in international waters off the coast of Florida while the vessel was in transit from Costa Rica to New Jersey. It was not recorded in either the ship’s oil record book or garbage record book, as required. In an effort to conceal the dumping, crewmembers presented a U.S. Coast Guard boarding team with a false oil record book and garbage record book when the vessel arrived in Gloucester, New Jersey.
On June 15, 2015, Georgiev pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an accurate oil record book in violation of APPS. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 8, 2015.
The case was investigated by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen P. O’Leary and Matthew Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, and Joel La Bissonniere of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice.
Georgiev: Michael Twersky Esq., Philadelphia
Norbulk: George Kontakis Esq., New York