Chinese ship fined $12 million for pollution

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Crew member tips off Morehead City port

Pac Anares is a confessed repeat offender, having twice paid large fines for illegal discharges at North Carolina ports – once in 2008 and again in 2019.

MOREHEAD CITY – Pacific Carriers Limited, a Singapore-based company that owns subsidiaries engaged in international shipping, was sentenced this week in federal court before U.S. District Court Judge Louise Flanagan in New Bern. The company pleaded guilty to violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, Obstruction of Justice, and for a Failure to Notify the U.S. Coast Guard of a Hazardous Condition on the Motor Vessel Pac Antares.

The eight felony offenses occurred across three federal judicial districts – the Eastern District of North Carolina, the Southern District of Texas, and the Eastern District of Louisiana – all homes to ports that see a lot of international shipping.

Flanagan imposed a fine of $12 million, with probation for a period of four years. She also ordered the company to follow a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan.

In pleading guilty, Pacific Carriers Limited admitted that crew members of Pac Antares – a 20,471 gross-ton, 586-foot ocean-going commercial bulk carrier — knowingly failed to record in the vessel’s oil record book the overboard discharge of oily bilge water and oil waste without the use of required pollution-prevention equipment.

The pollution occurred from April 2019 until September 2019. When the vessel arrived in Morehead City on Sept. 29, a crew member left the ship, and subsequently informed a Customs and Border Protection officer that he had information about illegal discharges.

The U.S. Coast Guard conducted an inspection and examination, seizing evidence that oily waste and garbage had been discharged from the vessel to include a configuration of drums, flexible hoses and flanges to bypass the vessel’s oily water separator.

Pacific Carriers Limited also admitted that a large space along the keel of the vessel (known as the duct keel) was being used to store oily waste of up to 60,000 gallons, which constituted a hazardous condition under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act.

This is not the first pollution offense for the Pac Antares. In 2008, the shipping company was assessed a penalty of over $2 million for similar violations at the state port in Wilmington, NC.

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