Posted by on February 08, 2005 at 09:31:04:
Summary: The fines and grants will be split among the government, two environment programs and a whistle-blower
Officials of an international shipping company on Thursday pleaded guilty to four pollution charges in U.S. District Court in Portland and paid $2 million.
The money -- part fine, part community service grants -- will be divided among the federal government, two environmental programs and a former shipping company employee who provided the evidence needed to prosecute the case.
The total $2 million paid by Fujitrans, a Japanese company, is among the largest payments made in an ocean dumping case in Oregon, said Scott Kerin, an assistant U.S. attorney.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will get $490,000 for the Columbia River Estuarine Coastal Fund. The Channel Islands National Park in Ventura, Calif., will get $165,000.
Arturo Claracay, a former Fujitrans employee, will get $360,000, one-quarter of the amount the government was set to get. Under the federal Act to Prevent Pollution From Ships, whistle-blowers can get up to half of any fines imposed, Kerin said.
The guilty plea settled charges filed in Oregon and California.
The cases involved the Cygnus, an oceangoing vessel that employs about two dozen people. Vessels such as the Cygnus produce waste oil, which accumulates in the bottom of the ship. The bilge waste is processed to separate the oil and other wastes from water. Afterward, water containing small amounts of oil can be discharged overboard, according to court documents.
The oil is supposed to be stored in a sludge tank and disposed of onshore once the ship is in port.
In March 2002, Claracay, the former Fujitrans employee, sent an e-mail to federal authorities saying the Cygnus was illegally dumping oily waste. Claracay provided photographs.
After the Cygnus arrived in Portland in April 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard searched the ship and found a hose used to discharge oily waste, according to court documents.
In addition, crew members admitting to the illegal dumping, according to court documents.
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