BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — An Ontario company pleaded guilty to a negligent violation of the Clean Water Act Friday.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Algoma Central Corporation, headquartered in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, will face a significant fine for the violation.
Officials say the violation came from one of the corporation's vessels, the M/V Algoma Strongfield (Strongfield).
The Strongfield's oily water separator and oil content monitor malfunctioned or failed on multiple occasions during its delivery voyage in 2017 resulting in an accumulation of unprocessed oily bilge water, according to officials.
The oily bilge water was held in the Strongfield’s used wash water tank to avoid an overboard discharge.
Although the wash water tank was intended to hold deck and cargo hold wash water and is not listed on the Strongfield’s International Oil Pollution Prevention certificate, officials say several additional transfers of unprocessed oily bilge water were made into the tank between May 5, 2017 and May 30, 2017 when it arrived in Canada.
When the vessel arrived in Canada the crew handed over the operation of the vessel to another crew and although some of the crew were advised of the unprocessed oily bilge water in the wash water tank, officials say not everyone was.
According to officials, on June 6, 2017 while transiting Lake Ontario the 3rd officer on board the Strongfield requested permission to empty the contents of the wash water tank and the captain approved.
"Because Algoma had negligently failed to inform the 3rd Officer and the Captain what the wash water tank contained, approximately 11,887 gallons of unprocessed oily bilge water were released into Lake Ontario. The discharge was stopped when another Algoma employee learned of the discharge and informed the 3rd Officer and Captain that the wash water tank contained unprocessed oily bilge water and instructed them to stop the discharge immediately," a release states.
Officials say Alogma contacted the Canadian and United States authorities to report the discharge following the incident.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 14, 2021.