A shipping company based in Greece has been fined $2 million by a federal judge in Delaware after a crew member on one of its ships shared with investigators a video of a tanker ship discharging oil while cruising at sea.
U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika imposed the fine last week on Navimax Corp. for a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and obstruction of a Coast Guard investigation.
David C. Weiss, U.S. attorney for the District of Delaware, said Navimax is incorporated in the Marshall Islands but has its main office in Greece. Company officials could be reached immediately for comment.
“The defendant violated environmental laws that protect our marine environment from harmful pollution,” Weiss said in a statement that continued, "The message to the shipping industry is clear: Environmental crimes at sea will not be tolerated.”
In December 2017, prosecutors said, Navimax was operating a 750-foot-long oil tanker named Nave Cielo that made port in Delaware City, just off the Delaware River in New Castle County, and was boarded by the Coast Guard as part of a routine inspection.
During the inspection, a crew member gave the officers a thumb drive containing two videos that showed a “high-volume discharge of dark brown and black oil waste from a five-inch pipe, located 15 feet above water level,” according to court documents and statements made in court.
The discharge, which lasted about 10 minutes on Nov. 2, 2017, occurred in international waters after the ship left New Orleans, the documents state. The ship was headed to Belgium.
Federal authorities say that on the day after the discharge, crew members cleaned oil from the decks and lowered someone over the side to clean oil from the ship’s hull. Crew members, however, never disclosed the discharge, as required by the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Prosecutors said Roman Maksymov, the ship’s former chief officer, was responsible for the proper handling of oily waste from the ship’s cargo hold and for recording any discharge.
Navimax was ordered to pay the fine immediately.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay and the Coast Guard Investigative Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmond Falgowski and trial attorney John Cashman in the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice.