Bernhard Schulte Fined $1.75 Mln for Illegal Bilge Discharge

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  • Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement pleaded guilty to one count of maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharge of bilge waste from the tank vessel Topaz Express.
  • Chief Engineer and vessel Second Engineer pled guilty to their involvement in the offense.
  • Under the terms of the plea agreement, Bernhard will pay a total fine of $1,750,000 and serve a 4-year term of probation.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement Singapore, a vessel operating company, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharge of bilge waste from the tank vessel Topaz Express, reads a press release by thee US Justice Department.

The discharge of bilge waste is a felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

Chief and second engineer plead guilty

U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson of the District of Hawaii accepted the guilty plea.

Chief Engineer Skenda Reddy and vessel Second Engineer Padmanaban Samirajan previously pled guilty to their involvement in the offense.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Bernhard will pay a total fine of $1,750,000 and serve a 4-year term of probation.

This is the largest fine ever imposed in the District of Hawaii for this type of offense.

Bernhard to adopt a compliance plan

Bernhard further must implement a robust Environmental Compliance Plan, which applies to all 38 vessels operated by the company that call on U.S. ports.

According to court documents and information presented in court, the defendants illegally dumped bilge waste from the Topaz Express directly into the ocean, without properly processing it through pollution prevention equipment.

Bilge waste typically contains oil contamination from the operation and cleaning of machinery on the vessel.

No record of illegal dumping

The defendants admitted that these illegal discharges were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book as required by law.

Specifically, on three separate occasions between May and July 2019, Bernhard, acting through Chief Engineer Skenda Reddy and Second Engineer Padmanaban Samirajan, its employees, used a portable pneumatic pump and hose to bypass the ship’s pollution prevention equipment and discharge bilge waste directly into the ocean.

They then failed to record the improper overboard discharges in the vessel’s oil record book.

Evidence tampering

Additionally, during the U.S. Coast Guard’s inspection of the Topaz Express, Reddy destroyed paper sounding sheets and altered a copy of the vessel’s electronic sounding log.

He did this in an effort to conceal how much bilge waste had been discharged overboard without being processed through the vessel’s pollution prevention equipment.

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Source: United States Department of Justice

1 COMMENT

  1. Discharging oily bilge and waste water into the sea without using the appropriate facilities and filters is a crime which every Chief or Second engineer is aware of. Faking the oil record book is a crime as well. Why is this still happening? Why do they risk job and future for using magic pipes and trying to conceal their wrongdoings ?
    Because they are forced to do it. Because a set of filters for an oily bilge water separator costs lots of dollars for the company. Because discharging the dirty staff in ports costs lots of dollars as well. Because they wake up
    one morning and their already water gushing bilge wells are covered with leaked fuel or oil and they panick -how to get rid of it ? I could name you lots of reasons.
    The poor guys which are caught are the top of an iceberg.

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