Evergreen has entered into an agreement with the US Department of Justice and the United States Attorneys for the District of New Jersey, District of South Carolina, District of Oregon, Western District of Washington and the Central District of California to settle allegations that between 1998 and 2001 a small number of its vessels bypassed pollution control equipment and discharged bilge water directly into international waters.
Pursuant to this agreement, the company has agreed to enter pleas of guilty and pay a fine of $15 million. The company has further agreed to make $10 million in community service payments to various environmental funds.
A company spokesperson, Barbara Spector Yeninas, said that the violations charged by the government occurred between four and seven years ago, involved only seven vessels, and did not involve the discharge of bilge water in US waters. “We have taken full responsibility for the actions of employees who failed to comply with the worldwide company policy of protecting the environment,” said the spokesperson.
According to the spokesperson, when the ocean carrier became aware of these violations it took swift and decisive steps to expand crew training and to upgrade pollution control equipment on its vessels. The company operates one of the world’s finest seafarer training centers, which trains crews for its vessels, particularly in regard to environment related record-keeping and the use of pollution control equipment. She said, “neither the US government nor overseas enforcement authorities have made the company aware of a single environmental violation aboard any of its vessels since 2001.”
The company has been recognized for its environmental excellence both before and since the government’s investigation began in 2001. In 2003, for instance, its commitment to the environment was evidenced by the first-ever award presented by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for its voluntary compliance with recommended environmental protection issues.
The company has also been at the forefront of transportation companies in working with the US government on security issues to assist in the protection of US borders. The spokesperson said, “We value our long-standing positive relationship with US law enforcement authorities. We have corrected the problems that occurred several years ago and are determined to continue to safely deliver cargo to and from US ports.”