Singapore tanker operator fined $1.65 million for oil bilge dumping

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that a Singapore-based shipping company will pay a $1.65 million fine to the U.S. government for illegally dumping oily bilge water overboard during a tanker voyage in early 2019.

In addition to the fine, on March 20, U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar in Oakland, California, ordered UNIX Line PTE Ltd. to implement a “comprehensive” environmental compliance plan as a condition of a four-year probation.

“This sentencing shows that polluting our oceans and misleading the Coast Guard will cost you,” Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, in a statement.

On February 26, UNIX Line pleaded guilty in the district court of northern California to charges that its 16,408 gross-ton tanker, Zao Galaxy, dumped the oily bilge overboard between its departure from the Philippines on January 21, 2019, and arrival at the Port of Richmond in northern California on February 11, 2019.

The ship was carrying a shipment of palm oil at the time.

When U.S. Coast Guard officers boarded the ship at Richmond, they discovered that during the voyage a Unix Line-affiliated ship officer ordered the crew to discharge oily bilge water overboard using a contraption of drums, flexible pipe and flanges to bypass the vessel’s oil water separator. The discharges were not mentioned in the Zao Galaxy’s oil record book.

Unix Line’s action violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, the Justice Department said.