Greek Shipping Company Fined for Oil Pollution Violations

Video still courtesy U.S. Department of Justice

Published Dec 14, 2018 4:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Department of Justice has secured a fine of $2 million against Navimax, a subsidiary of Greek shipping firm Navios Maritime, after a seafarer provided video evidence of one of the firm's vessels pumping oily waste over the side.  

Prior to a PSC inspection near Delaware City last December, a crewmember of the Navimax-operated tanker Nave Cielo provided the U.S. Coast Guard with two videos that purportedly depict an oily waste discharge from an overboard pipe. The videos were taken in daylight.

Courtesy U.S. Department of Justice 

In a subsequent investigation the Coast Guard discovered evidence suggesting that the Cielo had discharged waste in international waters on November 2, 2017. The vessel was under way from New Orleans to Belgium at the time of the alleged offense, and the vessel's oil record book did not contain a record of the discharge.

“The defendant violated environmental laws that protect our marine environment from harmful pollution. The conviction and criminal fine, reinforced by a four-year term of probation, during which the defendant’s fleet of ships will be monitored, ensures that defendant is held accountable," said U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware David C. Weiss. "The message to the shipping industry is clear: environmental crimes at sea will not be tolerated.”

Large fines and lengthly probation sentences are common for MARPOL cases prosecuted in the United States. According to a tally compiled by the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Justice Department has convicted 140 shipping firms of MARPOL violations and collected $470 million in fines since enforcement began in the 1990s. Nearly ten percent of the total came from one penalty - the $40 million fine for Princess Cruises related to the discharge of oily bilge water from the Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess

The Standard Club warns that shipowners found guilty of pollution charges in American courts should not expect insurers to reimburse them for related liabilities, except in very exceptional circumstances.