ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A German shipping company on probation for dumping oily water off California in 2013 was sentenced Wednesday to pay $750,000 for a repeat offense in Alaska.
A ship owned by Herm. Dauelsberg GmbH & Co. KG discharged an estimated 1,780 gallons of oily water in U.S. waters on a trip from China to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands earlier this year, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis.
"There's no excuse for this conduct," he said.
Herm. Dauelsberg operates the 617-foot Lindavia, which took on fuel at a port in China in mid-January and experienced a significant fuel leak. Almost 36,000 gallons of heavy fuel leaked through a corroded bulkhead into a cargo hold, Feldis said.
Ship owners arranged for the Lindavia to travel to a shipyard in South Korea.
"They did a fair amount of cleaning there but didn't finish the job," Feldis said.
When the Lindavia left Korea, heavy fuel remained in the bilge area of the cargo hold. The Lindavia traveled back to China and on Jan. 28 departed for Dutch Harbor, a fishing port on Unalaska 800 miles southwest of Anchorage, with heavy oil still in the lowest portion of the cargo hold.
After rough weather, the Lindavia crew reported damage on the ship. When it reached Dutch Harbor on Feb. 11, Coast Guard inspectors came aboard.
They determined that the crew had used a system of pumps and hoses to remove oily bilge water in the cargo hold. The polluted water was pumped to 55-gallon barrels on the main deck and then pumped overboard.
According to a plea agreement, the ship failed to keep accurate records of its discharges and presented a fictitious oil record book to the Coast Guard.
A message seeking comment was left for the company's lawyer Wednesday.
Herm. Dauelsberg pleaded guilty in California in April 2014 to federal oil record book violations and failing to report hazardous conditions on the 960-foot Bellavia between August and October 2013. The company paid more than $1.25 million in that case. New probation conditions were imposed after the Alaska violations.
As part of the Alaska conviction, Herm. Dauelsberg was ordered to start an Environmental Compliance Plan and was placed on probation for three years. The company will be subject to warrantless searches of its vessels and places of business if investigators have a reasonable suspicion that it is violating the law, according to prosecutors.