News 10 Jul, 2008

MARPOL Violations in the USA - Appeal Court Decision

MARPOL Violations in the USA – Appeal Court Decision

Following a Texas court ruling in 2006 which held that the United States had no authority under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) to criminally prosecute ship owners or crew members for failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book in the case of false entries which were made while the vessel was operating outside US jurisdictional waters, this decision has now been reversed on appeal.

For a detailed summary of the appeal decision and its implications, please refer to Dewey & LeBoeuf Client Alert "US Appellate Court Sides with Coast Guard and DOJ in Long Awaited MARPOL Decision"

Members may recall that practical measures to reduce the risk of MARPOL violations are outlined in a Loss Prevention Bulletin titled “Oily Water Separators” . In addition, Notices No.9 2004/5 and No.6 2005/6 draw attention to the fact that fines or penalties may not be covered if the Member disregarded or failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the incident.

Given that even simple mathematical errors may be misconstrued, this latest development reinforces the importance of ensuring that the Oil Record Book is maintained correctly at all times. Although the Oil Record Book is often checked by superintendents and internal auditors during shipboard visits, the entries are not necessarily compared with the vessel’s tank sounding records or the rated capacity of the oily water separator. Superintendents and internal auditors may find US Coast Guard Policy Letter 06-01 “Guidance For The Enforcement of MARPOL Annex I During Port State Control Examinations" to be a useful tool in this respect as it includes information on how to spot anomalies in the Oil Record Book.

Members are reminded that they may obtain a complimentary copy of Intertanko’s “A Guide For Correct Entries in the Oil Record Book (Part 1 – Machinery Space Operations)” from the Club’s Loss Prevention department on request.