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What are the penalties for discharging oil into waterways?

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2022 | Admiralty & Maritime Defense

Keeping the waterways clean is something for which everyone who uses the waters is responsible. If you are in a vessel, you need to be sure you properly dispose of your used oil. You cannot simply discharge it into the water.

The Environmental Protection Agency explains you could face criminal penalties for discharging oil into a waterway whether intentionally or unintentionally. You also may be liable if you knew of such dumping and failed to report it.

Discharging penalties

If you are responsible for a vessel that leaked or dumped oil into the water and you were not aware it was happening, you are guilty of negligence. You could face a fine of $2,500 to $25,000 per day until you stop the problem for the first time you get caught. For the second or subsequent times, the fine increases to $50,000 per day. You also might face a prison sentence of one year for the first time and two years for subsequent incidents.

If you knowingly dumped oil, then you will be subject to a fine of $5,000 to $50,000 per day for the first time and $100,000 per day for subsequent times. The possible prison sentence for a first offense is three years and for other incidents is six years.

Reporting penalties

If you know a vessel is illegally dumping oil and you do not report it to the proper authorities, you can face up to five years in prison. You may also face fines dependent on the judge’s discretion.

Dumping oil into the water creates serious health hazards for people and animals. It can smother aquatic life as well. Keeping waters clean is everyone’s job.