Cyprus-based Ship Fined $750K
by Faris Tanyos
The operators of a Cyprus-based bulk carrier have been fined $750,000 after pleading guilty Wednesday to felony oil pollution charges in connection with a reported oil spill last month at the Port of Portland.
Half the fine, $375,000, levied at A.E. Nomikos Shipping Inv. Ltd. of Greece And Jounia Shipping Co. Ltd. of Cyprus will go to the Oregon Governor's Fund for the Environment, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reports.
According the Associated Press (AP), on Oct. 18 the U.S. Coast Guard along with state regulators responded after an oil spill was reported at the Port of Portland. State wildlife officials say 300 fish were later found dead in the water. It's not yet clear whether the fish died because of spilled oil, the AP reports. The Coast Guard boarded the Arion SB on Oct. 16 to conduct a Port State Control Safety Exam.
According to a joint press release from U.S. District Attorney Amanda Marshall and Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, an investigation revealed that between June and October of 2011 the shipping companies directed the Arion SB's chief engineer to have the engine room crew pipe clean water directly into the ship's Oil Content Meter with the purpose of manipulating the meter's readings.
Both companies pled guilty to one count each of violating the act to prevent pollution from ships and knowingly making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon also sentenced both companies to three years probation.
"The sentences imposed today should send a clear message that the United States will hold vessels responsible for dumping oil in our oceans and for lying to the United States Coast Guard," Marshall said in a statement.
The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie F. Beckerman and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Flanagan of the Oregon Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Unit prosecuted it.
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