On Friday, March 19, Unix Line PTE Ltd., was sentenced to pay a fine of $1.65 Million and to a four-year probationary period after pleading guilty to violations of ocean pollution under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (“APPS”) earlier this month.
The Singaporean Shipping Company was found guilty of deliberately concealing the discharge of oily bilge waste into the ocean, directed by crew members on its Zao Galaxy ship, between the Philippines and California. The investigation into these violations of the APPS lasted one year and concluded with this serious fine. Fines of this magnitude are essential to deter shipping companies from engaging in similar polluting activities that destroy the ocean. Further, Unix Line will serve four years of probation under the eye of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The company must implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan.
There was no mention of whistleblower involvement in this particular case. However, whistleblowers can be vital to preventing illegal oil and waste pollution in our oceans. Of the thousands of ships at sea every day, up to 15% will knowingly pollute by ignoring and bypassing regulations. Far away from official oversight and in international waters, the only people who can prevent this from happening are the courageous whistleblowers who report this behavior. The DOJ awards those who are brave enough to draw attention to violations of the APPS or the MARPOL Protocol, with up to 50% of the monetary penalties that the United States Government receives from the guilty parties.
In this case, a whistleblower could have claimed up to $825,000 as an award if they provided qualifying information to law enforcement to aid the Department of Justice’s successful enforcement of APPS.
See our earlier coverage of this issue here: Singaporean Shipping Company Convicted of Ocean Pollution under APPS.
See the Department of Justice Press Release: Singaporean Shipping Company Fined $1.65m for Concealing Illegal Discharges of Oily Water.
Learn more about APPS Here.