Taiwanese firm Koo’s Shipping Company S.A. has pleaded guilty to dumping oily waste into an American Samoan harbor, the U.S. Department of Justice said. The company will now pay over $1 million in recompense.
Along with releasing the bilge into Pago Pago harbor (pictured) without using appropriate pollution prevention equipment, Koo’s has also admitted responsibility for making false statements and knowingly failing to fully and accurately maintain an oil record book as required by international treaty and U.S. law.
Koo’s Shipping Company S.A. owned and operated a 4,491 gross ton 396 feett-long commercial ocean going ship named the M/V Syota Maru that carried frozen fish and fish products primarily in the Pacific Ocean and into American Samoa.
On August 17, 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment in American Samoa conducted an inspection of the vessel in Pago Pago. The Coast Guard learned, from inspecting the engine room and interviewing crew members, that the crew had been discharging oily bilge waste directly into the ocean without using the required pollution prevention equipment.
All discharges of oil or oily bilge waste from a vessel into the sea, both legal and illegal, are required to be recorded in the vessel’s oil record book. None of these discharges were recorded in the oil record book for the M/V Syota Maru.
The company was sentenced to pay a $750,000 criminal fine and pay $250,000 towards community service projects in American Samoa, and was placed on probation for three years.
The $250,000 community service payment will be split equally between the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Both organizations will use the money for the environmental restoration and protection of coral reefs in American Samoa.
During the period of probation, Koo’s will be required to implement a comprehensive environmental compliance plan which will ensure that each of the ships they own or operate complies with all maritime environmental laws, the Justice Department said.
In July 2010 the Justice Department ordered a shipping firm registered in Panama to pay a $4 million fine for dumping oily bilge into the seas.
On top of the penalty, Irika – owner of the Greek-flagged M/V Iorana, which had made port calls in Baltimore, New Orleans and Tacoma, Wash., – was also placed on probation for five years.