SEAMEN WHISTLE-BLOWERS REVEAL MARITIME POLLUTERS REAP LARGE BOUNTIES

Seamen working long arduous jobs on ships at sea are becoming whistleblowers reporting massive oil spills resulting in large bounties to them under environmental whistleblower laws. A lot of the cases involve illegal dumping of sludge and oily bilge water, from the ship engines. International laws require that ships separate out the oil and then incinerate it or store it until reaching port. Unscrupulous owners pump the oil overboard and then create fraudulent logs. It is estimated that 15 percent of the 50,000 ocean going vessels illegally dump oil and sludge. In 1987, a whistle-blower provision was added to United States laws allowing seamen who report these crimes to collect up to half of the criminal fines imposed. These bounties often reach as much as one million dollars. The crewmen often take photos with their cell phones as evidence of the spills. One recent whistleblower working on a Maltese cargo ship reported dumped sludge and oily water and wa fined nearly $2 million. The whistleblower will receive over $925,000.