wave.jpgA shipping company pleaded guilty this week in federal court in San Francisco to felony oil pollution charges and agreed to a $1.5 million fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Engineers aboard the S/S Horizon Enterprise, a large container ship owned by Horizon Lines, LLC, intentionally altered pollution control equipment designed to ensure oily waste does not go overboard, according to the plea agreement announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. Doing so violates both U.S. and international oil pollution laws.

They then altered the ships logs of oil transfers and discharges so U.S. Coast Guard inspectors would think the equipment was working properly, officials said.

“Horizon’s intentional tampering with its pollution control equipment showed a blatant disregard for the environment,” Haag said. “This case demonstrates our commitment to enforcing U.S. and international oil pollution laws to protect our natural resources.”

Horizon Lines acknowledged the conduct had been taking place on the S/S Horizon Enterprises over a period of several years, and pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two counts of making false statements.

The company was ordered to pay a $1 million fine and $500,000 toward environmental projects in the San Francisco Bay, and must also implement a comprehensive environmental compliance plan to avoid further wrongful conduct.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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