The USCG has launched a campaign of strict control of monitoring on vessels calling US ports of how oily-water separator equipment is used. In recent weeks, there have been an increasing number of reports in the general press, trade press but also from the US Justice Department on specific incidents that have led to investigation and charges against owners and crews of vessels of all types for false oil discharge records and for by-passing anti-pollution equipment, particularly oily water separators.

Owners and operators of vessels calling in the United States should expect close scrutiny of interior spaces housing oily water separators and of logs and other records. The seriousness of the issue is heightened by the high settlement figures recently announced in the case of the Norwegian Cruise Lines after that company voluntarily disclosed violations, Click here for more information and because of the exposure of crews to criminal penalties and substantial fines. We deem it prudent to remind members to review with masters and engineering staff the importance of maintaining equipment and records in optimal condition. The pattern of investigations to date indicates that even good faith anomalies in record keeping can create suspicions that complicate and prolong investigations. As our members are no doubt aware, there have been instances in which record-keeping practices have created separate bases for criminal charges.

The campaign is led by the Coast Guard Oily Water Separation Systems Task Force, which was set up to examine and assess the operational requirements, reliability, and capability of oily water separators in actual operating environments; identify ways of improving the Coast Guard's inspection and evaluation of oily water separation systems; and develop recommendations for the maritime industry on how to reach its environmental goals and ensure compliance with MARPOL and the Clean Water Act. USCG. On 30 October 2001, USCG circulated a questionnaire, which can be viewed here  and encouraged public participation in this study by submitting comments and related materials. (comments submitted can be viewed here, - docket number 10485).


The INTERTANKO Safety, Technical and Environmental Committee (ISTEC) is reviewing experience with pollution prevention equipment. Members’ feedback is more than welcome either direct to the contacts below or via the local/regional manager.



Dragos Rauta, or

Jonathan Benner,