LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — A federal judge ordered a shipping company to pay $2 million in fines after one of its tankers illegally dumped oily waste into the Gulf of Mexico.
Interorient Marine Services Limited was fined Feb. 13 in U.S. District Court in Lake Charles after the company pleaded guilty to a felony charge of failing to accurately maintain the ship's oil records.
Federal prosecutors said the waste dumping was no accident. The Justice Department said in a news release that senior officers aboard one of the company's ships, the oil tanker Ridgebury Alexandra Z, intentionally tampered with the ship's pollution prevention equipment in order to dump waste directly into Gulf waters.
Prosecutors said the ship's record book was falsified to show 87,705 gallons (331,990 liters) of oily waste had been disposed of properly.
"Tankers are required to offload their waste oil at disposal facilities at ports and not into the Gulf of Mexico," U.S. Attorney David Joseph said in a statement. "This case should serve as a deterrent to other individuals and companies that ignore our laws, pollute our waters, and damage our environment."
In addition to the fine, the shipping company's plea deal requires it to serve four years on probation. During that time, all ships operated by the company that call on U.S. ports will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan.
Criminal charges are also pending against the ship's captain, Vjaceslavs Birzakovs. He was indicted in November on six counts relating to the waste dumping and falsified records.