The US Justice Department is fining a Japanese cargo vessel for pouring pollutants into the ocean.
The company, Nitta Kisen, will pay a $1 million fine after its engineers admitted that they released an oily discharge into North Carolina waters and attempted to cover up the operation with false paperwork.
Nitta Kisen and its chief engineer were placed on probation following the prosecution. The shipping firm was also ordered to implement a compliance plan that would be monitored for three years, on top of paying the fine.
Prosecutors said the ship, which was carrying industrial materials to the state at the time, discharged the waste via hidden “magic pipe” hoses that the US Coast Guard discovered during an inspection in May 2017.
The oily discharge is a byproduct of a ship’s engine and other onboard operations. It usually gathers in the bottom of a vessel, along with water from condensation and other sources. Normally, this liquid waste is passed through a separator for proper disposal, but the process is incredibly time consuming
“There’s a natural inclination on the part of a shipping company to want to reduce cost and time as much as possible, and sometimes that does involve pumping stuff overboard that they shouldn’t,” Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney David Pettit told Wall Street Journal. “The Coast Guard can’t be everywhere at once and their jurisdiction doesn’t extend to the middle of the ocean, so it’s a tough one to police.”