WASHINGTON, DC: May 10, 2018. Japanese ocean carrier Nitta Kisen Kaisha (Nitta) has been fined US$1.0 million by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) for dumping oil waste and falsifying its records as part of a port call at Wilmington, NC.

During the delivery of steel products by the M/V Atlantic Oasis, owned and operated by Nitta, a junior engineer told the U.S. Coast Guard how oil waste from the vessel’s fuel and lubrication oil purifier systems, as well oily bilge waste, was secretly discharged into the sea via hidden hoses.

Nitta admitted its engineers, including former chief engineer Jihnyun Youn, had obstructed justice and falsified an ‘Oil Record Book’ as part of a cover-up. According to the DoJ, chief engineer Youn had previously been convicted and sentenced for falsification of the vessel’s Oil Record Book.

MV Atlantic OasisIn addition to a fine, Nitta was placed on probation for three years and ordered to implement an audited comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) throughout the period. Youn was fined US$5,500 and received a one-year probation.

“While the charges in this case rest on the failure of the ship’s crew to properly document the discharge of oily bilge waste, the heart of this case is the illegal discharge itself and the damage that action did to our environment – particularly our spectacular seashores and waterways,” said US attorney Robert Higdon for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

“We trust that the fines and penalties imposed in this case will act as a deterrent to anyone who would treat our environment as a dump-ground,” he added.

In December 2016 the DoJ fined Princess Cruises a record US$40 million for dumping oil waste - and covering up the practice since 2005 - using a so-called ‘magic pipe’ to bypass the pollution prevention equipment on the Caribbean Princess. During the investigation the DoJ found other illegal practices on four other company vessels.

As part of a plea agreement with Princess, ships from other Carnival Corporation companies including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises are subject to a court supervised ECP until 2021.