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Four crew members of polluting ship awarded whistle-blower payments

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Sep. 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm with No Comments »
September 21, 2010 2:56 pm

Four crew members of a Greek-flagged cargo ship who reported illegal oil and plastic discharges from the ship to U.S. authorities have been awarded $125,000 each under a federal law that gives pollution whistleblowers up to half of fines collected under the law.

The award to the crew members came in a case against Irika Shipping S.A., a ship management company registered in Panama and doing business in Greece.

Irika was fined a total of $4 million for illegal discharges from the vessel M/V Iorana. A portion of that fine, $125,000, will go to environmental restoration projects in Puget Sound.

Irika Shipping had previously been prosecuted for a similar violation in Tacoma. A different ship, the M/V Irika, was involved in that incident in 2007.

Crew members told federal investigators the ship’s engineer rigged a long hose to discharge oily wastes overboard during a voyage from Gibraltar to Baltimore in December 2009. Some 6,000 gallons of oily sludge were discharged via that hose.

The bypass hose was used at night, and the flange where the hose was connected was repainted to cover up tool marks created when the hose was hooked up, said federal prosecutors.

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