December 19, 2005

Shipping firm to pay $10.5 mln in US pollution case

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Hong Kong-based shipping company that
used a "magic pipe" to dump oil-contaminated sludge into the
Atlantic Ocean has pleaded guilty and will pay $10.5 million,
federal prosecutors said on Monday.

Announcing what his office said was the largest fine
involving deliberate pollution by a single ship, U.S. Attorney
Michael Sullivan said MSC Ship Management (Hong Kong) Ltd's MSC
Elena used a specially fitted steel pipe to funnel the 40 tons
of sludge and waste overboard.

"The defendant knowingly violated anti-pollution laws,
intentionally dumping oil-contaminated waste directly into the
ocean -- and even went so far as to manufacture a so-called
'magic pipe' to accomplish the crime," Sullivan said.

The Coast Guard discovered the pipe during a routine
inspection in Boston Harbor this year.

MSC Ship Management, a privately-held company, pleaded
guilty to the charges and agreed to pay the $10 million fine
and $500,000 to support community service projects that offer
environmental education to mariners visiting or sailing from
Massachusetts ports.

Sullivan said he hoped the fine would send a strong message
to others who might try to break anti-pollution laws.