UK Shipping Company Fined $750,000 Over Illegal Discharges

The article from gcaptain is here.

The ship dumped some barrels of hydraulic oil over the side.

According to documents and statements made in court, on April 27, 2014, crew members of the M/V Murcia Carrier dumped several barrels of hydraulic oil overboard at the direction of the vessel’s Chief Mate, Valerii Georgiev. The dumping occurred in international waters off the coast of Florida while the vessel was in transit from Costa Rica to New Jersey. The discharges were not recorded in either the ship’s oil record book or garbage record book, as required by the APPS. In an effort to conceal the dumping, crewmembers presented a U.S. Coast Guard boarding team with a false oil record book and garbage record book when the vessel arrived in Gloucester, New Jersey.

Obviously this was a bad move on the part of the crew but what was he supposed to do with it? If it’s left on board they will get nailed by PSC.

It’s become increasingly difficult to get rid of waste aboard ship. It’s typical that the U.S. goverment would take the approach to simply raise fines to high level and encourage whistle blowing.

By contrast the approach in ports in the EU countries is to charge the ships a fee for waste disposal regardless if it’s used or not. So for the crew, disposal of waste is “free”, the owner cannot avoid waste disposal charges.

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;164131]The article from gcaptain is here.

The ship dumped some barrels of hydraulic oil over the side.

Obviously this was a bad move on the part of the crew but what was he supposed to do with it? If it’s left on board they will get nailed by PSC.

It’s become increasingly difficult to get rid of waste aboard ship. It’s typical that the U.S. goverment would take the approach to simply raise fines to high level and encourage whistle blowing.

By contrast the approach in ports in the EU countries is to charge the ships a fee for waste disposal regardless if it’s used or not. So for the crew, disposal of waste is “free”, the owner cannot avoid waste disposal charges.[/QUOTE]

Back in the day when the ship I was on hit Hong Kong we pumped everything off as it was part of the port charges. We rarely had to run the OWS. I agree the US makes it expensive to get rid of waste. Some of it should be considered a potential resource instead of hazardous waste.

That said the hydraulic oil should have been pumped into the ship’s waste oil or sludge tank.

[QUOTE=Chief Seadog;164133]Back in the day when the ship I was on hit Hong Kong we pumped everything off as it was part of the port charges. We rarely had to run the OWS. I agree the US makes it expensive to get rid of waste. Some of it should be considered a potential resource instead of hazardous waste.

That said the hydraulic oil should have been pumped into the ship’s waste oil or sludge tank.[/QUOTE]

Well, you know what I’m talkiing about.

I’m not trying to defend the C/M or the crew, I’m just pointing out that fining or jaililng crew members shouldn’t be the go-to approach to solve every problem.

We rarely need to pump off because we are well set up to handle (boil-off and burn) waste oil created in day to day operations. However other type of wastes can be a problem. Some stuff you can only get rid of in certain ports, we’ve carried stuff around for a couple of years before being able to get rid of it.

Instead of focusing on fining the crew goverments should look at making it easier to do things properly.

This article raises a couple of questions in my mind.

How did the USCG know that the lube oil came from that vessel? Arial imagery?

What can Norbulk or any other shipping company do to prevent the ship crew from doing such acts? You can give someone all the training and certification in the world, but if they are committed to performing and idiotic act then there is not much people in an office thousands of miles away can do. You cannot fix stupid. Are these companies meant to fit their vessels with surveillance cameras will coverage all areas of the vessel and put high speed internet on board so that they can monitor live what is happening on board? Maybe fit a couple of loud speakers next to the cameras so the person in the office thousands of miles away can shout at the person about to commit the crime preventing them from doing it.

stupid question, but is it normal practice to dump barrels of product overboard? Seems like a foreign concept to me.
I’m not a deep sea guy. Just curious.

[QUOTE=Ctony;164160]stupid question, but is it normal practice to dump barrels of product overboard? Seems like a foreign concept to me.
I’m not a deep sea guy. Just curious.[/QUOTE]

It was reported that several barrels containing hydraulic oil were thrown over. Barrels as in drums not bbls the measure. The amt of oil was given as unknown I assumed that the amt of oil was residual but I don’t know.

Wtf, is this 1970? What kind of idiot would think he could get away with some stupid shit like this?

The drums were empty, the oil was residual amounts. The case is here. (pdf)

Obviously, the drums should not have been dumped. But $750,000 for a few tablespoons of residual oil in the drums, that is really excessive and absurd.

Timeline of events:

Sometime between April 24,2014 and April 29, 2014 the vessel departed Costa Rica proceeding to New Jersey.

On April 25th the Chief Mate ordered the deck crew to throw the steel drums overboard.

On April 27th in international waters the crew members threw the empty drums overboard.

On May 14th the vessel entered US waters.

At an unmentioned date after the 14th of May the vessel arrived in New Jersey and the USCG boarded the vessel and commenced action against the vessel.

This timeline raises a few questions.

Why is the timeframe when they departed Costa Rica so broad? Surely it cannot be that difficult to identify when a vessel departed a port, especially with sites like marine traffic etc recording it.

How did the USCG know that the drums had been thrown overboard after more than 2 weeks had passed since they threw them until it was discovered? Did they wash ashore in the US with the ships name stamped on the drum or was there a whistle blower on board the vessel that photographed the act and then reported it to the USCG?

How exactly are Norbulk meant to stop people from throwing things overboard?

even if they didn’t have one drop of oil left in them, did they do anything to them to make them sink?
Regardless, no matter how limited on space, the option of throwing them overboard would never cross my mind…and yeah, 750000 does sound steep.

[QUOTE=tugsailor;164192]Obviously, the drums should not have been dumped. But $750,000 for a few tablespoons of residual oil in the drums, that is really excessive and absurd.[/QUOTE]

It does seem excessive, here the Attorney General says legal ways of dispoal were ignored.

“Our oceans are life giving and life sustaining resources that our country and our world depend upon,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, said. “Ignoring perfectly legal and feasible ways to dispose of waste, the defendants chose instead to dump directly into the ocean. Today the company will pay a price for this inexcusable and criminal act.”

I’m not trying to defend the mate but likley the C/M was just trying to do his job. If nobody will take the drums does he store them somehere on deck for a dozen trips till someone figures it out?

If the ship needed hydraulic oil the job was not done till the drums are removed. But from the owners point of view once the oil is in the system and the ship is able to move cargo it’s just the crew’s problem.

How did the USCG know that the drums were thrown overboard ?!?!?!

[QUOTE=follow40;164264]How did the USCG know that the drums were thrown overboard ?!?!?![/QUOTE]

I would think the RAT Factor (Whistle Blower) did the deed.

[QUOTE=Tugs;164268]I would think the RAT Factor (Whistle Blower) did the deed.[/QUOTE]

That probably is the case.

What can the operator Norbulk do to stop people from throwing drums over the side?

What is to stop people that have a grievance against the vessel operator to perform a similar act, and then report anonymously to the USCG, so that they come and investigate resulting in the operator getting a massive fine. The person that committed the act might get some punishment, but the fine that they get their operator might make them think it would be worth the punishment.

[QUOTE=follow40;164283]That probably is the case.

What can the operator Norbulk do to stop people from throwing drums over the side?

What is to stop people that have a grievance against the vessel operator to perform a similar act, and then report anonymously to the USCG, so that they come and investigate resulting in the operator getting a massive fine. The person that committed the act might get some punishment, but the fine that they get their operator might make them think it would be worth the punishment.[/QUOTE]

Obviously you can’t completely stop people from doing things against policy but, I’ve been playing this game for a while now, you can take steps to protect yourself and the owners.

Every trip when we sign on a new crew everyone meets in the crew’s mess and the ship/company policies get read or the location of posted polices get pointed out. Then an attendance sheet is passed around that everyone signs.

That may sound silly but if you’ve ever been to a deposition that’s how it works. Once you’ve shown that they should know policy it’s on them to follow it, within reason.

In the case of the oil drums it’s not possible to say what could have been done without knowing more details.

[QUOTE=follow40;164283]That probably is the case.

What can the operator Norbulk do to stop people from throwing drums over the side?

What is to stop people that have a grievance against the vessel operator to perform a similar act, and then report anonymously to the USCG, so that they come and investigate resulting in the operator getting a massive fine. The person that committed the act might get some punishment, but the fine that they get their operator might make them think it would be worth the punishment.[/QUOTE]

Agree with what K.C. posted above with regard to making sure everyone is aware of the company policy & procedures. It is also very important for shoreside to establish simple and straight forward procedures to handle the stuff when it needs to be landed. They must make it well known that this is an expense they expect and are most willing to pay to do things right. When the people ashore make it hard or give the impression they don’t want to deal with it disaster is around the corner.

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;164131]The article from gcaptain is here.

The ship dumped some barrels of hydraulic oil over the side.

Obviously this was a bad move on the part of the crew but what was he supposed to do with it? If it’s left on board they will get nailed by PSC.

It’s become increasingly difficult to get rid of waste aboard ship. It’s typical that the U.S. goverment would take the approach to simply raise fines to high level and encourage whistle blowing.

By contrast the approach in ports in the EU countries is to charge the ships a fee for waste disposal regardless if it’s used or not. So for the crew, disposal of waste is “free”, the owner cannot avoid waste disposal charges.[/QUOTE]

In a different post, I remember writing something to the affect of being “asked” to perform illegal acts. By refusing to perform stated acts you then would be terminated from employment. With the reason if any given “poor performance”, or insubordination. People responded with the NO i never been asked to do anything illegal. So i guess that sort of thing does not go on. Oh wait look it does !! The USCG does nothing to the company just the mariner. So how does one operate a vessel legally, if the company won’t fit the vessel with the proper equipment? Or as stated, the ports in the US lack the infrastructure to properly dispose of waste while in port. Instead of ensuring that vessels and infrastructure is there to properly handle waste. Let’s go after the mariner cause after all it is the mariners fault the ports don’t have the infrastructure. It is the mariners fault the company won’t pay the fees, to properly dispose of the waste. It is cheaper for a company to fire and hire someone who will break the laws. Let’s not fix that ! Whistleblowing what a joke ! caught one out of a thousand oh you really did something there

The setup for waste removal in the EU has it’s issues as well. But at least it shows they’ve thought about the issue a little.

The rules in each port varies, in at least one port in the EU if your waste oil tank is over 50% full pumping the oil ashore is mandatory.

I don’t know what would make a crew think taking a risk with pumping oil over at sea is worthwhile. Perhaps some screw-up with handling leads to contaminating some oil. So the crew is faced with having to admit to a costly mistake plus the costs of disposal. Being able to pump the oil at no cost would make fessing up a little more bearable.

Seems like selective enforcement goes on with the USCG. The Noble Discoverer was found guilty of dumping waste overboard, OWS by-passed etc., and fined millions but I don’t recall a mariner being prosecuted.