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Sunday, October 21, 2018


A frisson of barely-disguised glee went through the tanker community earlier this week when the gamekeeper was caught red-handed – or Greenpeace was hauled over the coals by the U.S authorities for not having proper oil spill contingency plans and proof of financial responsibility for a vessel in Alaska – and for breaching a no-move agreement.

However, this incident demonstrates clearly the no-nonsense approach adopted by the U.S authorities to all improperly documented ships – not just to oil tankers. Greenpeace is reported as claiming that it was just the paperwork that was lacking. But US officials stress that “there is no such thing as a paperwork violation – compliance is not a mere technicality.”

That is where that frisson of glee comes close to becoming a cold shiver as every tanker operator realises that one bureaucratic slip can mean a significant run-in with the U.S. authorities.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s (ADEC) Press Release says that state prosecutors have filed charges against Greenpeace, the master of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, and the ship’s agent, alleging violation of two state environmental laws. According to the information filed with the court, the vessel left port in breach of an undertaking by the ship’s agent (Willem Jan Beekman) that the vessel would remain at anchor in Ketchikan while the documentary matter was sorted out.

Greenpeace has been charged with operating in state waters without an oil discharge prevention and contingency plan and for failing to file proof of financial responsibility for oil discharge damages. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $10,000 fine for individuals and a maximum penalty of $200,000 for organisations.

The Arctic Sunrise had 27 environmental activists on board en route to protest at logging in Alaska’s TongassNational Forest – the nation’s largest.

Contact: Bill Box