The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has struck a deal with Crowley Global Ship Management, fining the shipping behemoth $248,500 for allegedly dirty dealings on the high seas. The company is accused of fumbling with the Clean Water Act by letting untreated ballast water flow freely from two of its vessels, raising the specter of environmental hazards.
According to information released by the EPA, Crowley's Ocean Grand and the Ocean Glory dropped the ball by discharging untreated ballast water 15 times between 2019 and 2020. The Ocean Grand was called out for releasing untreated water eight times and giving vessel inspections a miss in 2020 and 2021. That oversight has Crowley coughing up $111,250 in civil penalties.
The Ocean Glory didn’t fare much better with seven initial strikes for ditching untreated ballast water from May 2018 to September 2020, also failing to report post-treatment ballast water monitoring in December 2021. Skipped inspections in 2018, 2019, and again in 2021 sealed its fate to a $137,250 fine, adding weight to the company's financial burden.
"It’s a fundamental responsibility of ship owners and operators to properly manage what they discharge into our oceans," EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman issued a stern reminder. The Vessel General Permit, associated with these slip-ups, plays a crucial role in shielding our nation’s waterways from untamed pollution." Self-reporting is central to the Clean Water Act, and when companies like Crowley allegedly take liberties with protocols, they put the whole system at risk of contamination.
Infractions like these spotlight the crux of self-reporting — a mechanism meant to let ship owners ferret out and fix problems proactively. But, when companies drop the ball or outright ignore it, aquatic ecosystems suffer, and invasive species get a free ride to new homes where they thrive at the expense of local wildlife.
Crowley’s negotiation with the EPA is a tentative step toward accountability, pending a public commentary period for the next 30 days. Should the people wish to throw in their two cents or explore the gritty details of the Clean Water Act violations, they are encouraged to voice their opinions about the charges against the Ocean Grand and the Ocean Glory on the agency's website.