Murray Applauds Fines on Evergreen Shipping

Apr 05 2005

Senator demanded that company comply with pollution laws, investigation into illegal waste dumping

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who early-on called for Evergreen Container Lines to comply fully with all marine pollution laws and investigations into suspected oil dumping on the Columbia River, today applauded the U.S. Department of Justice, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Coast Guard for their work to impose $25 million in fines on the company for illegally dumping oil into marine environments.

“The international shipping community is highly valued in Washington state, but we also value our environment and quality of life,” Murray said. “Washington state residents demand that our trading partners respect our laws and our environment.”

In March 2001, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Washington State Department of Ecology discovered a "mystery spill" of roughly 500 gallons of fuel oil in the Columbia River near Kalama, Washington. The agencies took samples of the spilled oil and later matched the samples to fuel carried by the Evergreen container vessel EVER GROUP.

Senator Murray was the first – and only - political leader to call on Evergreen Container Lines and international entities to comply with all marine pollution laws and international environmental shipping standards.

On May 18, 2001, in a letter to Owen Wu, Chairman of the Evergreen America Corporation, Murray wrote:

“The shipping industry can and will flourish in the Pacific Northwest without resorting to cutting corners and poisoning our waters. We expect you to comply fully with all marine pollution laws including the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78).”

Wu wrote back to Murray on May 21, 2001 denying the alleged environmental violations:

“We categorically deny any role in the 500-gallon oil spill into the Columbia River in March. We believe that our ships are being targeted by the United States Coast Guard without legitimate proof of our vessels’ violation of pollution laws.”

The investigation that followed found numerous Evergreen vessels equipped with pipes that could have been used to discharge oil directly into the marine environment rather than through mandated pollution control equipment as well as evidence that company had knowingly covered it up.

Today, Murray applauded the fines on Evergreen and looked forward to the growth of a shipping industry which respects environmental law.

“Our government and the U.S. Coast Guard worked diligently to bring this company to justice and to enforce the laws that protect our communities and our environment. I look forward to the continued growth of a shipping industry that flourishes without cutting corners and polluting our waters.”