Puerto Rico based Epps Shipping Company has been sentenced in federal court for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and making false statements to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition to a $700,000 criminal penalty that includes a $100,000 payment towards community service projects to rehabilitate and protect coral reefs in Guanica Bay, Puerto Rico, the company was placed on five years of supervised probation. It will have to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan to continuously monitor and evaluate pollution prevention from any ship it owns or operates.
Epps Shipping Company owned and controlled the M/V Carib Vision, a commercial ship that was engaged in the transportation of molasses throughout the Caribbean region. On Nov. 6, 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted an inspection of the vessel in the port of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard learned from inspecting the engine room and interviewing crew members that the vessel's Oil Water Separator and other pollution prevention equipment was inoperable and could not be used to treat the vessel's oily waste prior to it being discharged overboard. The investigation revealed that prior to Nov. 6, 2010, the crew of the vessel used the emergency bilge discharge system to dump its oily waste directly overboard without first processing it through the ship's pollution prevention equipment as required. All overboard discharges of oil or oily bilge wastewater are required to be recorded in the vessel's Oil Record Book. None of these discharges were recorded in the Oil Record Book for the M/V Carib Vision.
"Today's sentence demonstrates the United States' steadfast commitment to safeguarding the marine environment," said Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner, Coast Guard Seventh District Commander. "We applaud the efforts of the many environmentally responsible companies, but will hold non-compliant corporations and their officers accountable for violating environmental laws. Coast Guard Sector San Juan investigators and the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) did a great job investigating and preparing this case. I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of the Department of Justice for bringing this case to a proper resolution."
August 19, 2011