German ship operating company MST Mineralien Schiffahrt plead guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis to environmental violations. The company was charged with discharging oily wastewater in the Great Lakes from Liberian-flagged MV Cornelia, and then covering up the illegal act in the ship’s documentation.
On at least ten occasions between February to October 2015, crew members on the Cornelia dumped oil-contaminated waste water overboard while on route to Duluth, MN to pick up loads of grain destined for Africa. At least one of those discharges occurred in the Great Lakes.
Minnesota Public Radio News reported that MST is fined a total of $1 million – an $800 000 fine to the United States, and a $200 000 community service payment to help preserve the watershed of Lake Superior. The U.S. Attorney’s Office recommended that the community service payment should be awarded to St. Paul-based nonprofit Minnesota Environmental Fund. MST was also sentenced to serve three years probation.
The Cornelia, a saltie, was detained outside the Duluth Harbour last year for over a month so that the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency could investigate. It was released on Dec. 18 so that it could exit the Great Lakes at the Soo Locks before the canals closed for winter.