Photo: Coral Reefs of Puerto Rico
Epps Shipping Company, a Liberian corporation doing business out of Carolina, Puerto Rico, was sentenced in federal court for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and making false statements to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors, announced Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno and United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez.
The company was sentenced to pay a $700,000 criminal penalty to include a $100,000 payment towards community service projects to rehabilitate and protect coral reefs in Guanica Bay, Puerto Rico. In addition, the company was placed on five years of supervised probation and will have to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan to continuously monitor and evaluate pollution prevention from any ship it owns or operates.
Epps Shipping Company owned and controlled the M/V Carib Vision, a commercial ship that was engaged in the transportation of molasses throughout the Caribbean region. On Nov. 6, 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted an inspection of the vessel in the port of San Juan, P.R. The Coast Guard learned from inspecting the engine room and interviewing crewmembers that the vessel’s Oil Water Separator and other pollution prevention equipment was inoperable and could not be used to treat the vessel’s oily waste prior to it being discharged overboard. The investigation revealed that prior to Nov. 6, 2010, the crew of the vessel used the emergency bilge discharge system to dump its oily waste directly overboard without first processing it through the ship’s pollution prevention equipment as required.
During the period of probation, Epps Shipping Company will be required to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) which will ensure that any ship owned or operated by Epps complies with all maritime environmental requirements established under applicable international, flag state, and port state laws. The ECP ensures that Epps’ employees and the crew of any vessel owned or operated by Epps are properly trained in preventing maritime pollution. An independent monitor will report to the court about Epps’ compliance with its obligations during the period of probation.