Irika Shipping S.A. has agreed to pay a $4 million penalty for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and obstruction of justice, reports the U.S. Department of Justice. The ship management corporation registered in Panama and doing business in Greece, also agreed to be placed on probation for a maximum period of five years, and be subject to the terms of an Enhanced Environmental Compliance Program.
The company is accused of illegally dumping waste oil and bilge waste and concealing deliberate vessel pollution from the M/V Iorana, a Greek flagged cargo ship that made port calls in Baltimore, Md.; Tacoma, Wash., and New Orleans, La.
Irika was previously prosecuted for dumping waste oil sludge in Tacoma, Wash., in 2007. Under that agreement, Irika Maritime and Irika Shipping were required to develop and implement an Environmental Compliance Plan that would apply during a four-year probation period to the entire fleet of vessels managed by Irika Shipping, including new vessels such as the M/V Iorana.
In July, Irika Shipping pleaded guilty to dumping approximately 23 cubic meters of oil contaminated sludge and about 6,000 gallons of bilge waste overboard in December 2009 during the voyage from Gibraltar to Baltimore using a 103-foot bypass hose, as well as other illegal discharges, and concealing the vessel’s pollution.
The investigation into the M/V Iorana was launched in January 2010 after a crew member passed a note to the Customs and Border Protection inspector upon the ship’s arrival in Baltimore alleging that the ship’s chief engineer had directed the dumping of waste oil overboard through a bypass hose that circumvented pollution prevention equipment required by law.
Photos obtained by the U.S. Coast Guard show the bypass system used to discharge oily waste, including sludge, being routed through the ship’s boiler blow down system where any trace of oil could be expected to be steam cleaned away, according to the justice department.
Under the terms of the proposed plea agreement, Irika Shipping and its ships must also be audited by an independent firm and supervised by a court appointed monitor.
Of the $4 million, Maryland will receive $750,000, which will be used for Chesapeake Bay projects. In Washington, $125,000 will pay for environmental projects in and around the waters of Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan De Fuca. In Louisiana, $125,000 will help fund habitat conservation, protection, restoration, and management projects to benefit fish and wildlife resources and habitats.
Lloyd’s Register recently announced it will offer a verification service to ship-owners and operators wishing to demonstrate their success in reducing the environmental impact of their activities beyond the requirements of classification or statutory rules and regulations.