The U.S. Justice Department last week said Japanese cargo-vessel company Nitta Kisen Kaisha Ltd. will pay a $1m fine after admitting its engineers poured pollutants into waters off North Carolina and tried to cover up the operation with false paperwork. Prosecutors said the ship carrying industrial materials to the state discharged the oily waste through hidden hoses that the U.S. Coast Guard discovered during an inspection in May 2017.
Nitta and its chief engineer were placed on probation, and the firm was ordered along with the fine to implement a compliance plan that will be monitored for three years.
The conviction was the latest by federal authorities to bring criminal charges against shipping companies that violate the U.S. Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, the domestic law enforcing International Maritime Organization conventions on ship pollution.
Last year, the U.S. fined Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. $40m for using devices on five of its cruise ships to avoid time-consuming cleaning of oily waste and bilge water and then concealing the activity through falsified logs. It was the largest verdict of its kind against a ship operator, but that doesn’t appear to have deterred other companies from looking for ways to get around the restrictions.
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