The Law Firm of Piacentile, Stefanowski & Malherbe LLP

The Pollution of Earth’s Oceans and Blowing the Whistle on Ships That Illegally Contribute to This Pollution

Did you know that many of the world's oceans are poisoned with toxic waste? And that some ships deliberately dump their dangerous cargo into the ocean, in violation of applicable laws, harming both the environment and marine life? The world's oceans are in a state of crisis. They are being polluted by a variety of sources, including ship traffic and waste discharge. This pollution is having a devastating effect on marine life and the overall health of the oceans. If you've ever wanted to blow the whistle on these illegal activities, now is your chance. Read on for more information about how to report maritime pollution.

Though it is not always evident, nearly everything in the average person's life has come to them by way of international shipping at some point. The rise of globalization has meant that an unprecedented amount of goods are traded between nations every day, and the vast majority of these goods travel by cargo ship. International shipping is a multi-billion dollar industry that plays a vital role in the global economy. However, this increased trade has also led to increased pollution from ships, as they often discharge waste and pollutants into the ocean. To combat this pollution, international law has established a number of rules and regulations governing the discharge of waste from ships. These laws require ships to treat their wastewater before releasing it into the ocean and prohibit them from dumping certain types of pollutants directly into the water or above certain levels.

Ships pollute the oceans in a number of ways. They dump their garbage and sewage directly into the water, which contains harmful chemicals and pathogens that can damage marine life and make people sick. They also release oil and other chemicals from their engines and hulls into the water, which can contaminate fish and other seafood that people eat. Finally, ships burn huge amounts of fuel, releasing harmful pollutants like sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide into the air. These pollutants eventually fall back into the oceans, where they can damage marine life and make the water more acidic. While not all of the above is illegal, it can be if not done properly and in accordance with applicable maritime laws.

The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) includes a whistleblower rewards provision that offers eligible whistleblowers up to 50% of whatever sanctions the government collects from violators resulting from the whistleblower's information. Even non-US whistleblowers are eligible for a reward under this program.

APPS is the US's implementation of MARPOL. MARPOL is the acronym for the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. It was enacted in 1973 and modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78). It is one of the most important international conventions dealing with maritime pollution. The purpose of MARPOL is to minimize pollution of the marine environment by ships - both during construction and operation. MARPOL covers all sources of pollution from ships, including oil, chemicals, sewage, garbage, and atmospheric emissions. APPS requires that all vessels operating in U.S. waters meet certain standards for the prevention of pollution. These standards include requirements for sewage treatment, garbage management, and oil spill prevention.

A survey of past APPS whistleblower actions found that between 1993 and 2017, the US government awarded $33 million to 205 whistleblowers in about 100 prosecutions under APPS. Overall, thanks in large part to whistleblowers, the US government has collected over $270 million in sanctions from polluters and violators of APPS.

APPS requires that ship crews maintain accurate Oil Records, that waste not be discharged a certain distance from land, that certain types of pollutants may only be discharged in certain areas, and discharges for different types of pollutants not exceed certain levels.

APPS applies to US-flagged vessels and to all vessels, regardless of nationality, operating in US navigable waters or ports.

If you know about an illegal discharge of waste or pollutants or of any other violation of APPS, contact us at Piacentile, Stefanowski & Associates LLP, also known as Whistleblowers International. We will evaluate your information free of charge and do not charge you anything unless and until we win you a monetary whistleblower reward.

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