More than half a million dollars in fines for clean water infringements

Vila Nova do Corvo II Inc, company managers Carlos Rafael and Stephanie Rafael DeMello, and vessel captain Carlos Pereira agreed to pay a total of $511,000 in civil penalties and to perform vessel improvements to resolve federal Clean Water Act claims stemming from oily bilge discharges from the commercial fishing vessel Vila Nova do Corvo II, a related discharge of fuel oil filters, and violations of pollution control regulations.

The complaint was filed in April 2019 in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleging that the company and individuals, all based out of New Bedford, Massachusetts, were liable for violations of the Clean Water Act related to the operations of the Vila Nova do Corvo II in coastal waters off of south-eastern New England.

The complaint related to overboard discharges of oily bilge waste from the vessel while at sea harvesting scallops and the discharge of used oil filters into the sea. The complaint also included a claim for violations of the Coast Guard’s pollution control regulation related to the failure to provide sufficient capacity to retain all oily bilge water onboard the vessel.

The complaint alleged that the defendants discharged the contents of the engine room bilge, which contains a mixture of fuel, lubricating oils, water, and other wastes, into the ocean rather than retain the waste onboard.

Finally, the complaint included a claim for violations of the Coast Guard’s pollution control regulation requiring dedicated piping to properly transfer oily bilge waste to a shore-side facility for disposal. The violations were discovered by the Coast Guard during boarding operations.

As part of the settlement, the company and company managers will pay civil penalties of $500,000, and the captain of the vessel will pay penalties of $11,000.

The consent decree requires corrective measures to improve the operation of the vessel and prevent future discharges. The defendants will be required, among other things, to repair the vessel to reduce the generation of oily bilge water, operate within the vessels’ capacity to retain oily bilge for the full length of planned voyages, provide crew and management training on the proper handling of oily wastes, document all oil and oily waste transfers on and off of the vessels, including documenting proper disposal of engine room bilge water at a shore reception facility, and submit compliance reports to the government.