Bavaria-based MST Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST) pleaded guilty Friday to one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and one count of obstruction of justice for using falsified log books to hide intentional discharges of oily bilge waste occurring over a nine-month period, during which the ship regularly made port calls in Portland, Maine.
According to documents filed in court, MST discharged oily bilge waste from the Marguerita through the use of a so-called “magic pipe” that bypasses required pollution prevention equipment. The discharges violated MARPOL and were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book, a required ship log regularly inspected by the US Coast Guard to assure compliance.
US District Court Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced the company pursuant to a plea agreement and ordered it to pay a $3.2 million criminal fine and serve a four-year term of probation during which vessels operated by the company will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor.
Today’s action demonstrates that the Coast Guard and the Justice Department will not stand by while foreign vessels intentionally pollute our oceans and then try to cover up their criminal acts by lying to the US Coast Guard,
...said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark.
The company was convicted of similar environmental crimes in the District of Minnesota in 2016. That federal case involved the falsification of the oil record book for the M/V Cornelia, which concealed deliberate discharges of oil-contaminated bilge waste, including discharges into the Great Lakes.
The case was investigated by the US Coast Guard Investigative Service with assistance from the US Coast Guard Sector Northern New England which conducted the inspection of the ship. The prosecution was handled by Trial Attorney John Cashman and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard Udell of the Environmental Crimes Section of the US Department of Justice, with assistance from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine.