A U.S. judge yesterday ordered Cyprus-based Diana Wilhelmsen Management to pay a $2 million fine and serve four years probation after pleading guilty to charges of concealing unlawful discharges of oily water into the Atlantic Ocean. The company will also be supervised under an environmental compliance plan.
The charges stemmed from an incident in 2020 aboard the Protefs, a 40,230 gross ton, bulk carrier operated by Diana Wilhelmsen Management, a joint venture between Greece’s Diana Shipping and Norway’s Wilhelmsen Ship Management. According to court documents, from mid-April 2020 until the vessel arrived in Newport News, Virginia on June 10, 2020, the crew on the Protefs 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.” The crew concealed the discharges by not recording them in their logs.
“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, one of the jurisdictions involved in the case. “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.”
DMW pleaded guilty to charges that the crew aboard the vessel knowingly failed to record in the vessel’s oil record book the overboard discharge of oily bilge water. The vessel arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 1, 2020, with a knowingly false oil record book and later presented the same records to the U.S. Coast Guard when it arrived in Newport News.
The vessel’s chief engineer, Vener Dailisan, age 47, also 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 to ascertain the accuracy of the oil record book.
The case was heard in the Eastern District of Virginia federal court with prosecutors from Virginia and Louisiana working with the US Coast Guard and federal authorities, including the Justice Department and the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section.