November 15, 2006
Whistle blowers may get $200,000
The U.S. Department of Justice has recommended that a whistle blower award of $200,000 be split by three members of the crew of a Sun Ace Shipping vessel.
Sun Ace Shipping Company, based in Seoul, South Korea, has been sentenced to pay a $400,000 penalty and a $100,000 community service payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Program, Delaware Estuary Grants Program,
It has also been sentenced to a three-year term of probation during which its vessels will be banned from U.S. ports and waters.
On Sept. 6, 2006, Sun Ace Shipping pleaded guilty to a one-count information for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) in relation to the operation of a bulk carrier vessel the M/V Sun New.
A trial date for the Chief Engineer and Second Engineer, who were charged in a three-count indictment with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and a violation of the APPS, has been set for Dec. 5, 2006, in front of Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark, N.J.
Sun Ace Shipping was charged with knowingly failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book that fully recorded the disposal of oil residue and bilge into the ocean and then falsifying records to conceal illegal discharges.
Engine room operations on board large oceangoing vessels such as the M/V Sun New generate large amounts of waste oil. International and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of waste oil without treatment by an Oily Water Separator. The law also requires that all overboard discharges be recorded in an Oil Record Book, a required log which is regularly inspected by the Coast Guard.
The government has petitioned the court for an award under the APPS to be granted to three crew members of the M/V Sun New who reported the use of the bypass hoses and the illegal dumping to the SeamenŐs Church Institute of Philadelphia and South New Jersey on Jan. 2, 2006. This report and the subsequent assistance of these three crew men were key to the government's investigation and prosecution of the case. APPS gives the Court the discretion to award up to half of the criminal penalty to the whistleblowers, and the Justice Department has requested that the court divide the $200,000 equally among the three crew men who reported the dumping. The DepartmentŐs petition is still under review by the court.