BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Pollution for profit. Only this time, it ended in a bust and millions of dollars in fines. It’s a case cracked in Baltimore, when a ship dumped toxic waste oil into the sea.
As Alex DeMetrick reports, it happened out of sight of police, but not eyewitnesses.
It happened a long way from Maryland’s coast, somewhere in the Atlantic. When the Liberian-registered ship Capitola docked at the Port of Baltimore, people onboard started looking for police.
“A crew member on the ship notified authorities the ship had been illegally dumping waste overboard while at sea,” said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for Maryland.
According to Rosenstein, it was waste oil, and a U.S. port made it a federal case. The Coast Guard, which routinely inspects for violations, had more than just a tip.
“The crew members documented it with video tapes they produced themselves,” said Rosenstein.
It was very similar to a bust last year in Baltimore aboard a Greek ship. Crewmen took photos of the hoses and hardware used to dump the vessel’s waste oil into the ocean. Evidence showed the Capitola was using much the same equipment to cover that dumping.
It ended up costing the Greek ship $4 million in fines. Owners of the Capitola were fined nearly $2.5 million.
Still, polluting at sea can mean profits when compared to removing oil waste the right way in port.
“If they’re required to process waste when they come to port, it means delay and means expense,” said Rosenstein. “So as a result, there’s an incentive to dump this waste at sea.”
There is also an incentive for crew members to notify authorities. Under federal whistleblower laws, a conviction can result in rewards totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.