By Karen Robes Meeks
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Singapore) PTE LTD. (Bernhard), has pleaded guilty in federal court to keeping “false and incomplete records” about how bilge waste was discharged from the tank vessel Topaz Express. This is considered a felony violation.
The plea agreement calls for the company to serve a four-year probation, enact a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan that will apply to all of its 38 vessels that call on US ports, and pay a $1.75 million fine, the largest imposed by the District of Hawaii for this kind of offense.
“This case was built on the hard work of Coast Guard inspectors and investigators and we appreciate the strong partnership with the Department of Justice to hold polluters accountable,” said Capt. Arex Avanni, commander of the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “All vessel owners and operators are responsible for maintaining their vessels and preventing illegal discharges of oily wastes into the ocean. We are committed to the people of Hawaii to protect our waters and the Pacific Ocean from the damage caused by pollution from illegal dumping.”