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Environmental Enforcement Roundup: Shipping Company Pleads Guilty; Mining Suit on Hold; Waste Hauler Fined

Environmental Leader’s daily roundup of key environmental enforcement news


Louisiana Shipping Company to Pay $2.1 Million in Criminal Penalties

A Louisiana ship-operating company was sentenced in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on charges related to the illegal discharge of oil into the oceans, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

Offshore Vessels LLC (OSV) was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $1,750,000 and remit a payment of $350,000 as community service to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The community service funds are to be used to study polar water pollution and protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the Antarctic region. OSV also will serve a period of probation for three years, during which it will be required to operate under an Environmental Compliance Plan. OSV pled guilty on July 22, to knowingly discharging waste oil from one of its vessels, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).

“The criminal fine in this case will serve as a strong deterrent to all vessel companies, American and foreign, against deliberately violating the laws enacted to protect oceans,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “The required payment will provide a means of studying polar water oil pollution and its impact on Antarctica’s fragile marine ecosystem.”

OSV owned and operated the R/V Laurence M. Gould (R/V Gould). The R/V Gould was a 2,966 gross ton American-flagged vessel that served as an ice-breaking research vessel for the National Science Foundation on research voyages to and from Antarctica. In its guilty plea earlier this year, OSV admitted that crew members knowingly discharged oily wastewater from the bilge tank of the R/V Gould overboard to the high seas, in violation of APPS. In doing so, they bypassed the ship’s oily-water separator, a pollution-control device. Regulations promulgated under APPS require that oily wastewater be discharged only after it has been sent through an oily water separator.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service, and was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Daniel Dooher of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dorothy Manning Taylor.

Coal Mining Suit Put On Hold

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is getting more time to decide whether to reject a permit for the largest mountaintop removal mining permit in West Virginia history.

The Charleston Gazette reports that U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers has delayed a lawsuit filed by environmentalists until Feb. 22. The lawsuit challenges the Spruce No. 1 mine permit held by Arch Coal.

The EPA has said it planned to revoke the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, the agency and Arch Coal are in legally required talks on whether the environmental impact of the Logan County project can be reduced.

The EPA is concerned that the project would bury nearly 7 miles of headwater streams and pollute waterways downstream.

California  DTSC Fines Hazardous Waste Hauler

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) issued an enforcement order against a Southern California hazardous waste transporter on Wednesday.

DTSC cited Golden West Oil, Inc. of Fontana for failing to enter the correct total volume of hazardous waste transported on one of its manifests. According to DTSC, The total amount of oil/waste on the attached receipts did not add up to the total gallons listed on the manifest. DTSC characterized the discrepancies as “misrepresentations.”

According to DTSC, Golden West also failed to a required statement on its receipts by the generator certifying that the generator has established a program to reduce the volume or quantity of and toxicity of hazardous waste to the degree as determined by the generator to be economically practicable.

The agency ordered Golden West to comply with regulations governing its reporting of its hazardous waste inventory, and assessed a fine of $22,000.

DTSC inspectors discovered irregularities in the hazardous waste manifests on a routine inspection at the Golden West facility in July 2009.

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