German shipping company MST Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH, the owner and operator of M/V Cornelia, has pleaded guilty to covering up illegal dumping of oily waste water into the Great Lakes.
Cornelia’s owners are now required to pay an USD 800,000 criminal fine and USD 200,000 earmarked for protection of Lake Superior and Lake Superior Watershed, the US Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota, noted.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, from February 2015 through October 2015, the M/V Cornelia, a German-owned commercial vessel, experienced significant leakages of oily waste-water. As a result, the vessel was accumulating a substantial volume of machinery space bilge water.
On at least ten occasions, the M/V Cornelia’s Chief Engineer and/or Second Engineer instructed members of the engine room crew to transfer machinery space bilge water from the dirty bilge tank to the clean bilge tank, which is a separate tank that is supposed to contain only clean, oil-free water, and then discharge the oily waste-water overboard.
At least one occasion when machinery space bilge water was transferred to the clean bilge tank and then discharged overboard occurred in approximately May 2015 while the ship was in the Great Lakes.
On each occasion in which oily waste-water was transferred internally and then discharged overboard, the Chief Engineer intentionally failed to record the transfers and subsequent discharges of oily waste-water in the M/V Cornelia’s Oil Record Book (ORB). This gave the false impression in the ORB that all of the oily waste-water had been properly handled and disposed.
When the vessel called upon the US Port of Duluth in November 2015, USCG inspectors boarded the ship to conduct an examination and were presented with the M/V Cornelia’s ORB containing the omissions and false entries.
As an additional condition of the defendant’s guilty plea, MST will serve three years of probation, during which time the organization must commit no further violations of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), federal, state or local law. Furthermore, MST must fund and implement an Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) for all vessels that it operates which call at ports or places in the United States.