Shipping company penalized $750,000.
A Turkish shipping company has agreed to pay $750,000 to the U.S. government as punishment for purposely discharging oily sludge into the sea from one of its tankers.
Aksay Denizcilik ve Ticaret A.S. has entered into an agreement with federal prosecutors in which the company will plead guilty to two criminal charges - failure to accurately maintain an oil record book and making a false statement.
In addition to the financial penalty, the company will be placed on probation for three years under the plea agreement, and will establish an environmental compliance plan, along with remedial measures.
Federal law also requires ships to record every disposal and to make those records available for the Coast Guard when the vessel is within U.S. waters.
The Coast Guard boarded the ship, the MT/Kerim, at the Port of Tampa in March 2009, according to the plea agreement. Crew members gave inspectors an inaccurate record book, which did not reflect the fact that sludge had been discharged from the vessel.
Crew members aboard the MT/Kerim crew had installed a "magic pipe" to bypass the ship's pollution prevention equipment, according to the plea agreement.
This is not the first prosecution of its kind in Tampa federal court. Last year, the Japan-based Hiong Guan Navegacion Japan Co. Ltd. was sentenced to three years of probation and fined $1.75 million for similar violations.
From that fine, a federal judge granted a prosecutor's request that $337,500 be paid to two crew members who were deemed whistleblowers in that case.
As part of today's plea agreement, the Turkish company promises not to retaliate against any of its employees who cooperated with investigators.