German ship operator fined $3.2 million in magic pipe case

Written by Nick Blenkey
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NOVEMBER 3, 2018 — German shipping company Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST) was yesterday sentenced pay a $3.2 million criminal fine and serve a four-year term of probation after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and maintaining false official records to conceal deliberate pollution from one of its ships, the M/V Marguerita.

MST, which is based in Bavaria, Germany, was convicted of similar environmental crimes in the District of Minnesota in 2016. That case brought it a $1 million fine and involved the falsification of the oil record book for the M/V Cornelia, which concealed deliberate discharges of oil-contaminated bilge waste, including discharges into the Great Lakes. MST was on probation in the District of Minnesota when it committed the crimes charged in Maine.

According to documents filed in court, MST discharged oily bilge waste from the Marguerita through the use of a so-called “magic pipe” that bypassed required pollution prevention equipment. The discharges violated the MARPOL convention and were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book.

MST pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and one count of obstruction of justice for using falsified log books to hide intentional discharges of oily bilge waste occurring over a nine-month period during which the ship regularly made port calls in Portland, ME.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced the company pursuant to a plea agreement and ordered it to pay the $3.2 million criminal fine and serve a four-year term of probation during which vessels operated by the company will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor.


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