2 shipping companies plead guilty to hiding oil pollution

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Two shipping companies incorporated in Liberia pleaded guilty in Delaware to presenting falsified documents to the U.S. Coast Guard to hide oil pollution caused by one of their cargo ships.

A U.S. Department of Justice statement says Nederland Shipping Company and Chartworld Shipping Company also pleaded guilty Tuesday to not notifying the coast guard of the M/V Nederland Reefer's hazardous condition after a hole developed in the vessel's bilge water tank, compromising the hull's integrity. The companies must pay a $1.8 million fine.

The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships requires oily bilge water to be treated before being released into the sea. Inspectors found that chief engineer Vasileios Mazarakis was tricking an oil monitoring device, releasing untreated waste into the ocean and falsifying the ship's oil record book.