Italian shipping company settles after getting nabbed for pollution cover-up

d'Amico Shipping Italia to pay $4 million for discharge of oily waste

The tanker routinely delivered oil to a port in Bayonne.
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The tanker routinely delivered oil to a port in Bayonne.

An Italian-based shipping company was fined $4 million on Sept. 5, after it was convicted of discharging oily waste and other pollutants into the ocean and lying about it, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpentino and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams said.

The company, d’Amico Shipping Italia, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark federal court to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

As part of a plea agreement, the company is subject to a four-year probationary period, during which it will be audited by an independent company and overseen by a court-appointed monitor to ensure environmental compliance.

The company admitted it deliberately concealed vessel pollution from an oil tanker, Cielo di Milano, owned by the company. The tanker visited ports in Bayonne and other areas of New Jersey, Maryland, and Florida in 2014 and 2015.

The company admitted that the ship’s crew intentionally bypassed pollution prevention equipment.

Crew members used two different methods to discharge bilge water and oily waste from the vessel through its sewage system and into the ocean.

Bilge water on commercial vessels typically contains oil, urine, detergents, pitch, solvents, and other environmentally harmful chemicals.

Evidence was set on fire

Two chief engineers were involved in the illegal discharges and the related cover-ups, according to U.S. Attorney Carpentino.

One chief engineer was among multiple crew members who made false statements in their oil record book, a required log that the Coast Guard regularly inspects. The engineer said that the crew processed the bilge water through the vessel’s pollution control equipment, when they had not done so.

Some of the discharges took place within 200 nautical miles of land.

At a port in Bayonne in January 2015, a chief engineer and second engineer lied to members of the Coast Guard during an inspection of the tanker.

After the Coast Guard left the tanker, the chief engineer destroyed a notebook containing tank surroundings by burning the pages in the vessel’s boiler to conceal the notebook from the Coast Guard, Carpentino said.

The $4 million penalty that the company must pay includes $1 million in organizational community service payments to restore the coastal environment of New Jersey.

The funds will go toward projects selected by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support the cleanup of marine pollution, preservation of aquatic life, and restoration of shorelines on Newark Bay.

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