Ship employees get $125,000 for reporting leak to officials

March 09, 2002|By Todd Richissin | Todd Richissin,SUN STAFF

Two employees of a Danish shipping company were awarded $125,000 yesterday for ignoring the warnings of their bosses and informing the U.S. Coast Guard that their damaged vessel was leaking oil as it visited Baltimore.

The ship's operator, D/S Progress, based in Copenhagen, was sentenced to pay a $250,000 criminal fine for conspiring to conceal the leak from Coast Guard inspectors.

U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg said during the sentencing yesterday that the company disregarded the safety of the crew and the international and U.S. laws governing pollution.

The ship, the Freja Jutlandic, arrived in Baltimore March 22, 2000. Crew members, frightened for their safety, secretly slipped a note to Coast Guard inspectors alerting them to the leak, according to Thomas M. DiBiagio, U.S. attorney for Maryland.

"The Chesapeake Bay and the lives of those aboard this oil tanker were needlessly endangered, DiBiagio said in a statement. "The aggressive enforcement of federal criminal environmental laws is a priority."

The $125,000 is to be split by the two crew members. D/S Progress is bankrupt, according to DiBiagio. The money to pay the crewmen will come from a $250,000 surety bond D/S Progress was forced to post shortly after the leak was discovered.

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