Two foreign shipping companies were fined $10.4 million in a federal criminal case after pleading guilty Thursday in Newark, N.J., to dumping oil illegally into the ocean and then doctoring records to cover it up.
Of the $10.4 million, $2.6 million will be used to conserve, preserve, and restore coastal areas of New Jersey and Delaware affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Because the ships had visited ports in Delaware and Carteret, N.J., the Coast Guard became involved. Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, and Todd Wiemers, the Coast Guard deputy commander of the Delaware Bay sector, announced the penalties.
"We in New Jersey are as sensitive as anyone to the need to preserve the shoreline," Fishman said in a statement. "Shipping companies who foul the water by deliberately discharging oil and lying about it to the Coast Guard can expect to be prosecuted."
The companies, Columbia Shipmanagement (Deutschland) GmbH of Germany and Columbia Shipmanagement Ltd. of Cyprus, were represented by Washington lawyer Thomas L. Mills. No company officials appeared before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton.
The $10.4 million collective penalty is the largest vessel pollution settlement in either New Jersey or Delaware, federal officials said.