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Court Upholds $4.9M Fine for Ship’s Oily Sea Waste

(CN) - The 2nd Circuit upheld a $4.9 million fine for a Greek vessel's oily ocean discharge. Ionia Management's Kriton used a "magic hose" to bypass equipment that would have cleaned oily ship waste, instead pumping it directly to sea.

A Coast Guard investigation found that in 2006 and 2007, the company dumped almost 100 tons of oily waste as it docked its 600-foot tanker at U.S. ports.

Four federal indictments were consolidated into one case heard in Connecticut federal court, which resulted in a $4.9 million fine and a guilty verdict on all counts, including conspiracy, falsifying records, obstruction of justice and violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution on Ships. Ionia made false entries into a vessel log to cover up the ocean discharge, then hid, destroyed and lied about the hose used to bypass the oil separator.

The Act was approved in 1980 to implement two international treaties intended to prevent pollution of the ocean with oil, which is toxic to living organisms.

Ionia had argued that the ship discharge logs it was required to "maintain" under the Act meant only that it held the books in its possession.

The 2nd Circuit's decision to uphold the conviction was in line with a 5th Circuit ruling on a similar case, which held that "maintain" requires logs to be complete and accurate.

"Any other reading would defeat the purpose," the federal appeals court in New York opined.

The court summarily dismissed three remaining appeal arguments, pointing out that the company is a repeat offender. Ionia was convicted in 2004 for making false statements on another ship, and was on corporate probation when it committed the current violations.

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