Pacific Carriers fined $12m for pollution offences

Singapore based Pacific Carriers Limited (PCL) has been fined $12m by the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina after pleading guilty to violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, obstruction of justice, and for a failure to notify the US Coast Guard of a hazardous condition on general cargo ship Pac Antares (IMO 9262962). In addition to the fine, and as is normal in cases such as this, the company was placed on probation for a period of four years, and ordered by US District Court Judge Louise Flanagan to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan as a special condition of probation.

PCL pleaded guilty to a total of eight offences across three judicial districts – the Eastern District of North Carolina, the Southern District of Texas, and the Eastern District of Louisiana.

PCL admitted that crew members onboard the 27,659 dwt bulk carrier Pac Antares knowingly failed to record in the vessel’s oil record book the overboard discharge of oily bilge water and oil waste, without the use of required pollution-prevention equipment, from approximately April 2019 until the vessel arrived in Morehead City, North Carolina, on September 29th 2019. PCL also admitted that the crew discharged oily garbage and plastic overboard and falsified the garbage record book.

PCL also admitted that a large space along the keel of the vessel, known as the duct keel, was being used to store oily waste which constituted a hazardous condition under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act and it should have been immediately reported to the US Coast Guard Sector North Carolina.

The Chief Engineer, Wenguang Ye, pleaded guilty to falsifying the oil record book, and was fined $5,500 and banned from entering the US for one year. He cooperated in the investigation.

In 2019 a crewmember had walked off the ship and informed a Customs and Border Protection officer that he had information about illegal discharges that had taken place on the vessel. The US Coast Guard was sent that information and conducted an inspection and examination. Examiners discovered and seized evidence that oily waste and garbage had been discharged from the vessel via a configuration of drums, flexible hoses and flanges to bypass the vessel’s oily water separator.

Examiners also discovered that oily waste had been discharged through a laundry sink which subsequently discharged directly overboard or through the vessel’s sewage system. Examiners discovered the sewage system was contaminated with oil. Crewmembers also admitted that bags filled with oily rags were thrown over the side of the ship. These discharges were knowingly not recorded in the Pac Antares’s oil record book and garbage record book when they were presented to the US Coast Guard during the vessel’s inspection. The examiners also found over 60,000 gallons of oily water being stored in the “duct keel”, which took several days and a third-party contractor to clean out.

2003-built, Singapore-flagged, 20,471 gt Pac Antares is owned by Antares Maritime Pte Ltd care of PACC Ship Managers Pte Ltd of Singapore. It is entered with North of England on behalf of Antares Maritime Pte Ltd.