A Jordanian shipping company was recently fined $500,000 by US authorities after pleading guilty of violating environmental laws in the United States.

The Justice Department and the US Coast Guard announced on May 20 that Arab Ship Management Ltd., which is based in Jordan's port city of Aqaba, has pleaded guilty to  one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. 

The verdict posted on the website of the Department of Justice indicated that in accordance with the terms of the plea agreement, Arab Ship Management Ltd. was sentenced to pay a criminal penalty totalling $500,000 and be placed on probation for two years, during which time ships operated by the company will be banned from calling on ports of the United States.  

“The defendant violated environmental laws that protect our marine environment from harmful pollution,” said US Attorney for the District of Delaware Charles M. Oberly III.

“This conviction ensures that the defendant is held accountable with a criminal fine and a contribution to conservation efforts in coastal Delaware, as well as a two-year ban from United States ports.

The message to the shipping industry is clear: “environmental crimes at sea will not be tolerated”.

“This case demonstrates one way the coast guard acts to protect the environment,” said Captain Kathy Moore, US Coast Guard Commander of Sector Delaware Bay.

“Marine inspectors detected serious problems with the ship’s operations.   They dove into the details, and worked with the Department of Justice and the coast guard Investigative Service to bring this case to an appropriate resolution.”

According to court documents and statements made in court, Arab Ship Management Ltd. operated the M/V Neameh, a 6,398 gross tonne ocean-going livestock carrier.

On March 28, 2013, the US Coast Guard boarded the vessel in the Delaware Bay Big Stone Anchorage to conduct an inspection.   

The inspection and subsequent criminal investigation revealed heavy oil sludge inside the piping on the discharge side of the pollution prevention equipment leading directly overboard, where no oil sludge should be if the pollution prevention equipment is operated properly, the statement said.   

The statement added that inspectors also discovered that the vessel’s piping arrangement had been modified in a prohibited manner so as to allow oil sludge to be pumped directly overboard.   

"This prohibited piping arrangement was removed prior to the vessel’s arrival in Delaware.   Also during the inspection, coast guard officers were presented with two oil record books which are required by law to be accurately maintained onboard the vessel. 

“These two oil record books contained different and contradictory entries for the time period of November 30, 2011, through January 2, 2012, as well as fake oily waste disposal receipts," the statement concluded.