August 11, 2004
Three crew members get $1 million whistleblower reward
Sabine Transportation Company of Cedar rapids, Iowa, has been hit with a $2 million fine for illegally dumping thousands of gallons of waste oil, hundreds of tons of diesel-contaminated grain, and plastic wastes at sea
Sabine Transportation is a member of the Stickle Group of Companies, which bought five ships and the right to use the Sabine name from the original Sabine Towing & Transportation Company in 1998,
Yesterday, Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Charles W. Larson, Sr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, announced that Sabine Transportation had admitted it deliberately dumped waste oil, sludge, and oily mixtures from the S/S Trinity, the S/S Juneau, the S/S Sea Princess, and the S/S Colorado without the use of required pollution prevention equipment.
The deliberate discharges were then concealed in false Oil Record Books, required logs in which all overboard discharges must be accurately recorded and which are regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Sabine also admitted that, on a significant number of other occasions, the company falsified Oil Record Books and deliberately dumped oily wastes from other vessels in its fleet.
Two S/S Trinity crew members told the U.S. Coast Guard about the illegal dumping of thousands of gallons of contaminated diesel fuel when the vessel arrived in Jacksonville, Florida, in June 1998.
A S/S Juneau crew member advised the Coast Guard in Portland, Oregon, in March 1999 that hundreds of tons of diesel-contaminated wheat had been dumped into the ocean. The resulting nation-wide investigation revealed that illegal dumping occurred with frequency aboard a number of the vessels operated by Sabine.
U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett ordered Sabine Transportation Company to pay a $2 million fine and serve three years probation.
Judge Bennett also awarded a total of $1 million of the fine to the three former Sabine crew members who reported the crimes to the government.
The reward, granted under a provision that allows a court to award up to one-half of a criminal fine to those providing information leading to conviction, is the second award of $1 million dollars or more issued to crew member whistle blowers within the past week.