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Fairmont Shipping, Ltd., a Canadian company that operates the Philippine-flagged cargo ship Emerald Bunker, pled guilty on Nov. 14 to dumping oil in the Pacific Ocean in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).
The company was sentenced on Nov. 21 to four years of probation and fined $450,000. As part of the plea agreement, Fairmont Shipping is required to implement a fleet-wide environmental compliance program which will be monitored by third-party inspectors.
On Oct. 27, 2003, a crew member aboard the ship informed the U.S. Coast Guard that the ship was regularly dumping oil at sea. The U.S. Coast Guard and EPA Criminal Investigators used the information to uncover the fact that engineering personnel aboard the ship were bypassing the ship's oil pollution control system.
Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, the informant was awarded half the fine. As a result of the investigation, the ship's current Chief Engineer, Felix Sicapero, and the ship's former Chief Engineer, Vergilio Perillo, were also indicted.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and EPA's Criminal Investigation Division (Portland). The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland.