Ionian Management slapped with $250,000 fine for air pollution in the US

Ionian Management Inc., a New York-based ship manager, was sentenced in the District of the Virgin Islands after pleading guilty to a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

The company was sentenced to pay a fine of $250,000 and placed on probation for one year.

Specifically, between January 2017 and July 2018, one of the vessels managed by Ionian, M/T Ocean Princess was found to be burning fuel that contained excessive sulfur on twenty-six separate occasions, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) said.

Vessels operating within the U.S. Caribbean Emissions Control Area (ECA) must not use fuel that exceeds 0.10% sulfur by weight to help protect air quality.

As informed by DoJ, the fuel used onboard M/T Ocean Princess was petroleum cargo that had been transferred to the fuel tanks as authorized by Ionian. Once authorized, the crew of the M/T Ocean Princess transferred the higher sulfur fuel from the cargo tanks into the bunker tanks and used it to fuel the vessel.

U.S. Coast Guard inspectors boarded the M/T Ocean Princess on July 10, 2018, to conduct an inspection. During the inspection, the U.S. Coast Guard discovered the vessel’s use of fuel with an excessive sulfur content.

The sentence imposed on this commercial vessel manager for intentionally violating environmental laws designed to protect the air quality of the United States sends a strong message that the United States will not tolerate such violations and will hold violators accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.     

“The results announced today (November 2) are the culmination of four years’ worth of unyielding effort to hold accountable those who knowingly violate our federal laws,” said Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District.

The M/T Ocean Princess was owned by Lily Shipping Ltd. and operated by Ionian Shipping and Trading, both Greece-domiciled companies. According to DoJ, the two companies previously pleaded guilty to felony violations related to the use of non-compliant fuel and falsification of records and were sentenced to pay a combined criminal fine of $3,000,000, serve a three-year period of probation, and implement an Environmental Compliance Plan.