Whistleblower Awarded $462,500 for Alerting U.S. Coast Guard of Major Pollution Violation

Baltimore, Maryland U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis has awarded Salvador Lopes, the ship’s third engineer, $462,500 for blowing the whistle on Greek ship manager Efploia Shipping Co. and Denmark-based Aquarosa Shipping. In January, both shipping companies pled guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) by intentionally releasing oil and plastic waste in the port of Baltimore. Lopes could receive an additional $462,500 if the judge dismisses Efploia’s argument that Lopes should have notified company officials before complaining to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Officials state that Lopes provided the Coast Guard valuable information leading to this verdict, which include a handwritten note detailing illegal dumping of oil waste and garbage from the vessel Aquarosa, copies of the ship’s log, and over 300 cell phone photos documenting the violations.  Lopes also showed the Coast Guard where to find the “magic pipe” that allowed the ship to discharge pollutants undetected by illegally bypassing pollution prevention equipment.

Judge Garbis has also ordered that Efploia and Aquarosa each pay $952,000 in fines and donate $275,000, as part of their community service, to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which has a mission of restoring the Chesapeake Bay and other Maryland waterways.

The Employment Law Group® law firm has an extensive nationwide whistleblower practice  representing employees who have been victims of retaliation.