Cyprus-Based Shipping Company Fined $2 million for Concealing Unlawful Discharges of Oily Water into Atlantic Ocean
NORFOLK, Va. – A Cyprus-based company was sentenced to pay a fine of $2 million today after pleading guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
“We are firmly committed to enforcing federal environmental laws and will not tolerate conduct that pollutes our water, imperils natural ecosystems, and endangers our wildlife,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “As this case demonstrates, those who contaminate our most precious natural resources by illegally dumping hazardous waste into the ocean will be held accountable, especially when they falsify their records to avoid detection.”
Diana Wilhelmsen Management Limited (DWM) operates several commercial vessels. According to court documents, from mid-April 2020 until before the vessel arrived in Newport News on June 10, 2020, DWM crew members onboard the M/V Protefs, a 40,230 gross-ton, 738-foot ocean-going commercial bulk carrier, knowingly failed to record in the vessel’s oil record book the overboard discharge of oily bilge water. The vessel also arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 1, 2020 with a knowingly false oil record book.
“The United States will vigorously enforce laws that protect our ocean resources,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Holding shipping companies to account when wastes are unlawfully discharged overboard, and covered up through falsified documents, is vital to protecting our environment.”
The crew on the vessel used an emergency de-watering system to illegally discharge oily water directly into the Atlantic Ocean from the vessel’s bilge holding tank, duct keel, and bilge wells. Those discharges were not recorded in the oil record book as required. The chief engineer, Vener Dailisan, 47, pleaded guilty on December 18, 2020 to making a false statement to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors about the existence of a sounding log, which is routinely sought by inspectors in order to ascertain the accuracy of the oil record book.
“The commercial shipping industry is essential to commerce in this region, but their work must ensure they do not neglect their professional and legal obligations,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “Today’s announcement emphasizes that our office along with our federal partners are committed to holding accountable all parties whose criminality jeopardizes our environment and places the public and the ecosystem at risk.”
DWM received a term of four years of probation, a fine of $2 million, and supervision under an environmental compliance plan.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Todd Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division; Duane A. Evans, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana; and William P. Hicks II, Special Agent in Charge, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Chesapeake Region, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Kosky of the Eastern District of Virginia, Senior Trial Attorney Kenneth Nelson of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana prosecuted the case.
The Coast Guard Investigative Service Chesapeake Region and Coast Guard Sector Virginia provided valuable assistance in this matter.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:21-cr-6.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Eastern District of Virginia