German Shipping Firms Convicted of Discharging Sludge

Two German shipping companies that owned and operated the general cargo ship Nils B pleaded guilty to an environmental crime in US federal court, admitting that they knowingly failed to keep records related to the discharge of sludge into the ocean.

W. Bockstiegel Reederei GmBH & CO. KG and W. Bockstiegel GmBH & Co. Reederei KG MS NILS B pleaded guilty to one felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to accurately maintain an oil record book for the 1998-built ship.

Namely, the firms failed to disclose that oil contaminated water had been discharged into the ocean from the vessel without the use of pollution prevention equipment.

On August 5, 2014, personnel from the United States Coast Guard boarded the vessel after its entry into the Port of San Diego, California. Once onboard, the Coast Guard discovered that the crew had failed to keep an oil record book for a significant period of time, modifications had been made to piping coming from the oil water separator, and oil was discovered in discharge piping that should not have been present.

The defendants, in pleading guilty, admitted that the oil record book on board the vessel did not disclose any discharges of sludge between the time that the overboard discharge valve had been cleaned and its entry into the Port of San Diego in August.

According to the plea documents, the company and the United States agree to recommend that the Court impose a total criminal penalty of USD 750,000, of which USD 250,000 will be a community service payment.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 3, 2016.

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