U.S. District Court Judge Helen Gillmor this morning ordered a Singaporean shipping company to pay $1 million for its failure to maintain an accurate oil record book and making false statements on the illegal dumping of oil-contaminated bulge water at sea.
The company, Hai Soon Ship Management of Singapore, pled guilty to the charges on June 14.
“The marine environment that surrounds the Hawaiian islands is unique, and part of the islands’ natural beauty,” said U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price in a news release. “This Office will continue to work with the U.S. Coast Guard and use every tool at its disposal to bring to justice those who violate the law by polluting the sea.”
Hai Soon Ship Management is the operator of the 3,878-ton oil tanker called the Hai Soon 39, which provided refueling services to fishing vessels operating at sea, according to court documents.
Pursuant to its plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hai Soon Ship Management’s vessels operating in U.S. waters will be placed on a two-year probation and required to comply with a comprehensive environmental compliance plan.
Regular inspections of the plan ensuring that all of the company’s ships fully comply with all applicable marine environmental protection requirements will be conducted under the supervision of an independent auditor.
Both international and U.S. law require that vessels like the Hai Soon 39 use pollution prevention equipment to prevent the discharge of oil-contaminated bilge into the sea. When overboard discharges occur, they must be logged in an oil record book, which is inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard.
In October, the chief engineer of the Hai Soon 39, along with other engine room staff, constructed a hose in the engine room to bypass the ship’s pollution prevention equipment, including its oil water separator, and pumped oily waste directly overboard.
The discharges were never recorded in the ship’s oil record book, as required, and the engineer made false entries to make it appear as if the discharges had been routed through the oil water separator when they had not.
The U.S. Coast Guard investigated, and assistant U.S. attorneys Ken Sorenson and Amalia Fenton prosecuted the case.