Vessel concealed waste in ‘magic pipe’

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Four corporations involved in owning and operating a fleet of vessels regularly visiting New Orleans pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $1 million penalty and be banned from doing business in the United States for the next five years under the terms of a proposed plea agreement.

Of the $1 million penalty, $250,000 will be devoted to community service payments to help conservation, protection, restoration and management projects to benefit fish and wildlife habitats and resources in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

The government's investigation of the M/V Americana started when a crewmember told the U.S. Coast Guard during an inspection of the ship on Nov. 29, 2010, that the ship was illegally dumping sludge and oily waste overboard using a so-called "magic pipe" to bypass required pollution prevention equipment. The crewmember provided the Coast Guard with cell phone photos taken at sea showing the use of the bypass.

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