7 Dec 2011

US federal grand jury indicts NZ company over waste dumping in American Samoa

10:45 am on 7 December 2011

A US federal grand jury has lodged seven charges against the New Zealand fishing company, Sanford Limited under US anti-pollution laws for acts committed in American Samoa.

Sanford is accused of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, as well as conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to allegations it has been illegally dumping oily bilge waste at sea.

The indictment says Sanford operates the fishing vessel, San Nikunau, which delivers tuna to a cannery in American Samoa, and has been allegedly routinely dumping the bilge oil since at least 2007.

Sanford is also charged with failing to accurately maintain an oil record book for the vessel and with obstruction of justice for presenting false documents and deceiving the Coast Guard during an inspection.

If convicted, Sanford could be fined over 389-thousand US dollars on each count, with the indictment also seeking criminal forfeiture of more than 18.7 million US dollars.

The company says it is aware of the indictment but has yet to see it.