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Shipyard Moguls Held in Grit Dumping

Monday, April 22, 2013

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The owner of a major Italian shipyard, his son and five employees have been arrested in a blasting waste trafficking scheme that has been under investigation for two years.

Sicilian authorities have arrested Palumbo Malta Shipyard CEO Antonio Palumbo, 63; his son Raffaele Palumbo, 38; and five employees, ages 37 to 57. They are accused of illegally transporting and dumping used blasting grit containing stripped ship paint, reports say.

Palumbo Shipyards has three facilities in the Mediterranean: in Naples, Messina and Malta. The company also owns a superyacht facility on Malta.

Antonio Palumbo Raffaele Palumbo (left); Malta Today (right)

Antonio Palumbo and his son Raffaele are accused of conspiracy to commit environmental crimes and of destroying and suppressing public documents. Five employees were also arrested.

Conspiracy, Tampering with Evidence

The Palumbos, from Naples, are charged with conspiracy to commit environmental crimes and with destroying and suppressing public documents. In addition, an Italian judge has ordered the seizure of €226,000 ($296,000 USD) in company assets—the savings the company is alleged to have made from dumping hazardous waste.

The evidence-tampering charge relates to identification documents that allegedly falsified the waste carried by ships and to alleged destruction of documents.

The Palumbos were released on bail after their arrest Tuesday (April 16) and are now under house arrest, reports said.


The elder Palumbo called the case a “misunderstanding” and blamed the problem on a subcontractor, identified as The Future Sud Srl., according to Italian press accounts. The reports said that authorities were also seizing trailers belonging to the subcontractor.

Palumbo Shipyards
Palumbo Shipyards

Founded in 1967, Palumbo Shipyards owns three repair and new-build facilities in the Mediterranean.

“I am paying the price for living in a place that is difficult and complicated,” Palumbo told The Times of Malta. He said the charges were the result of the “delicate political climate in Italy.”

Reports said the arrests followed a two-year investigation by the Messina customs police (Guardia di Finanza) and Italian environmental police (Corpo Forestale) into illegal maritime transportation of hazardous waste.

The Palumbos' attorney, Francesco Picca, also said that his clients were innocent and that the elder Palumbo had tried previously to address the blasting waste disposal issue with the subcontractor.

Palumbo told reporters that he had paid the subcontractor to dispose of the waste and had taken court action against the subcontractor.


The Times details the transformation of the Malta Shipyard under the Palumbos’ ownership. The family bought the then-failing operation in 2010 and, in two years, repaired more than 500 ships and made the yard profitable, the newspaper said.

During the same period, the family bought a superyacht facility in Cospicua, on Malta, and earned the wrath of residents there when either coating overspray or excess blasting grit (reports differed) from repair projects covered many local cars.

No additional information was immediately available.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Enforcement; Government; Hazardous waste; Laws and litigation; Marine Coatings; Paint disposal; Shipyards; Surface preparation

Comment from John Fauth, (4/22/2013, 8:36 AM)

It's an unfortunate fact... the temptation to violate environmental regulations increases as the cost of compliance increases. Please don't misconstrue that observation as a value judgement about the need for and good derived from environmental regulation. Just a recognition that we should not be surprised by the unintended consequences of regulation (both good and bad).

Comment from josh hutcheson, (4/24/2013, 8:38 AM)

if you create hazardous waste dont blame someone else for cutting cornners on disposal do your job and the right thing know where it is going it is what you made it

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