Canadian Carrier Fined for Clean Water Violation


Upon pleading guilty to dumping wastewater into Lake Ontario, dry and liquid bulk carrier company Algoma Central Corporation was fined $500,000.

In addition, the company has also been put on probation for a period of three years during which it must implement an environmental compliance plan.

“The Great Lakes are our nation’s largest source of fresh water, and this prosecution shows the Administration’s commitment to preserving a natural resource that will be crucial for generations to come,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

According to a release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Algoma had been operating a fleet of dry and liquid bulk carriers on the Great Lakes, however, one of the vessels was the M/V Algoma Strongfield. Built in China, the Strongfield was to Canada on May 30, 2017, by a crew from Redwise Maritime Services, B.V., a vessel transport company based in the Netherlands.

Manned by a Redwise crew, over the course of a delivery voyage the vessel was reported to have malfunctioned or failed on multiple occasions, which directly affected the oily water separator and oil content monitor. As a result of the malfunction or failure, unprocessed oily bilge water accumulated within the vessel.

To mediate the issue, an Algoma employee directed Redwise to transfer and store the unprocessed oily bilge water in the Strongfield’s used wash water tank to avoid an overboard discharge of unprocessed bilge water into the Pacific Ocean. However, the wash water tank was intended to store deck and cargo hold wash water and wasn’t listed on the Strongfield’s International Oil Pollution Prevention certificate.

In the report, it has been stated that between May 5, 2017, and the Strongfield’s arrival on May 30, the Redwise crew made several transfers of unprocessed oily bilge waste into the wash water tank to avoid overboard discharges of untreated bilge water.

On May 19, an Algoma employee boarded the vessel during a transit to the Panama Canal and remained onboard until the vessel’s arrival in Canada. During this time, the unnamed employee served as Chief Engineer.

When the Redwise crew handed over operation of the vessel to an Algoma crew on May 30, upon their return to Quebec. Although some of the Algoma crew were advised that the wash water tank contained unprocessed oily bilge water, Algoma neglectfully failed to inform all onboarding crewmembers and inspectors.

The following month, on June 6, the Stongfield was transiting Lake Ontario when the 3rd officer on board requested permission to empty the contents of the wash water tank (while in the waters of the United States within the Wester District of New York), and was approved by the captain. Due to Algoma’s negligence to inform the 3rd officer or the captain what the wash water tank contained, approximately 11,887 gallons of unprocessed oily bilge water were released into the lake.

The discharge was stopped when another Algoma employee learned of what was occurring and instructed the crew to halt the discharge immediately. After the incident, Algoma contacted Canadian and U.S. authorities to report the discharge.

“The very purpose of the Clean Water Act is to protect our natural resources, including one of our nation’s greatest natural treasures, the Great Lakes, from harm,” said U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy for the Western District of New York. “This conviction and the fine imposed sends a strong message that those who violate the Clean Water Act will be held accountable for their actions. This penalty also ensures that this defendant will be monitored in the future and will be strictly obligated to comply with those environmental laws and regulations that protect our waters, our fisheries, our wildlife, and each of us.”

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Cindy C. Buckley, Buffalo, New York, and Resident Agent in Charge Edward L. Songer, Detroit, Michigan.

Trial Attorney Patrick M. Duggan of ENRD’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango of the Western District of New York are prosecuting the case.


Tagged categories: Clean Water Act; Environmental Controls; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Government; Health & Safety; NA; North America; Project Management; water damage

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