Cornelia operator cops plea, will pay $1 million

JULY 6, 2016 — Schnaittenbach, Germany, headquartered Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST), operator of the M/V Cornelia,  will pay penalties totaling $1 million after yesterday pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, MN, to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) by failing to maintain an accurate ship record about the disposal of oil-contaminated waste.

As a condition of plea, MST will be required to pay an $800,000 criminal fine to the U.S. and will be required to make a community service payment of $200,000 to support the protection and preservation of Lake Superior and the Lake Superior watershed.

As an additional condition of the defendant's guilty plea, MST will serve three years of probation, during which time the organization must commit no further violations of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), federal, state or local law. In addition, MST must fund and implement an Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) for all vessels that it operates which call at ports or places in the United States.

According to the defendant's guilty plea and documents filed in court, from February 2015 through October 2015, the M/V Cornelia  [a 24,516 dwt Cook Islands registered bulker], experienced significant leakages of oily waste-water. As a result, the vessel was accumulating a substantial volume of machinery space bilge water.

On at least ten occasions, the M/V Cornelia's Chief Engineer and/or Second Engineer instructed members of the engine room crew to transfer machinery space bilge water from the dirty bilge tank to the clean bilge tank, a separate tank that is supposed to contain only clean, oil-free water, and then discharge the oily waste-water overboard.

At least one incident when machinery space bilge water was transferred to the clean bilge tank and then discharged overboard occurred in approximately May 2015 while the ship was in the Great Lakes.

On each occasion in which oily waste-water was transferred internally and then discharged overboard, the Chief Engineer intentionally failed to record the transfers and subsequent discharges of oily waste-water in the M/V Cornelia's Oil Record Book (ORB).  This gave the false impression in the ORB that all of the oily waste-water had been properly handled and disposed of.

On November 3, 2015, the M/V Cornelia called upon the Port of Duluth to load grain for transport to Africa. At that time, U.S. Coast Guard inspectors boarded the vessel to conduct a Port State Control examination and were presented with the M/V Cornelia's ORB containing the omissions and false entries.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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