United States – Penalty for Dumping Oil

9 June 2015 No.735

The Association has received from Mr. Charles L. Whited, Jr. of the New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, law firm, Murphy, Rogers, Sloss & Gambel, the attached news on the intentional discharge of oily bilge water into the ocean.


A German shipping company was sentenced in the Federal Court to pay fines totaling USD 800,000 for violating the Clean Water Act and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) by intentionally discharging 4,500 gallons of oily bilge water into the ocean off the coast of Alaska.  The company was also ordered to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan and was placed on probation for three years, during which the company will be subject to a heightened level of scrutiny.  Furthermore, the Chief Engineer, who committed a violation of the Acts, was sentenced to serve five months of home confinement followed by five years’ probation.


The company was responsible for operating the Oil Water Separator (OWS) and maintaining an accurate Oil Record Book (ORB).  The Chief Engineer was responsible for the pollution control equipment in the vessel’s engine room, including the running of the OWS and maintaining the ORB.  In August 2014, however, the company knowingly discharged oily bilge water into the US Exclusive Economic Zone off the coast of Alaska.  There is a requirement under the APPS to keep an accurate ORB, but the company and Chief Engineer failed to record this discharge of oil into the sea by way of the illegal pump system, and knowingly presented a false and fictitious ORB for inspection by the USCG.  For the details of this incident, please see the attached news posted on the website of the US Department of Justice.


In the US, huge penalties can be imposed for violating the relevant regulations by intentionally discharging oil. Members must comply with the regulations in order to ensure that they do not have such penalties imposed on them. Please note that this kind of penalty is excluded from the Club cover in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Club Rules.