Outdated Ballast Water Management Plan Results in Severe Penalty

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Californian authorities have issued a US$280,000 fine against the owner of a vessel deemed to be in contravention of state legislation when conducting de-ballasting operations.

Contravention of State legislation

The crew conducted de-ballasting operations en-route to California, more than 50 nautical miles out from the California coast, but in contravention of state legislation. Such an operation had been permissible – and had indeed been performed by the crew – under the regulations in force when the ship had previously traded to California.

But, on this occasion, such de-ballasting was in violation of new regulations which had entered into force in July 2017, requiring ships entering from international waters to de-ballast more than 200 nautical miles from the coast of California.

The Californian authorities had disseminated this change to the shipping community by way of circulars. Information had also been published by the ship’s P&I club, but the change had not been picked up by the ship’s managers.

As a result, the ship’s ballast water plan had not been updated to reflect the new rules.

Crew unaware

The master admitted to the Californian authorities that the crew was not aware of the change in legislation, and the authorities duly issued a fine of US$280,000 against the owner.

This was subsequently negotiated down to US$215,000, which the owner claimed from the ship managers on the basis that they should have been aware of the change in law and should have updated the ballast water plan.

The claim was settled by International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC).

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Source: Tanker Shipping

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