Blowing the Whistle on Environmental Abuse: Investigation of Kanto Kosan for Wastewater Dumping at Naval Bases in Japan
Earlier this week, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Navy’s law enforcement arm, announced that it was investigating contractor Kanto Kosan for allegedly dumping wastewater from warships at harbors in Navy bases in Japan. The investigation was triggered by a tip submitted to Japanese Customs. The FBI and Department of Justice have also joined the investigation.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the probe, a Navy employee had previously raised the alarm to his superiors about the company, including in December 2018, when an “oily green slick” allegedly “seeped from one of the company’s barges.” The government agencies are investigating whether Kanto Kosan engaged in this conduct since 2008, and whether “Navy staff in Japan ignored complaints about it.”
Waste dumping and other pollution from ships are prohibited various American and Japanese environmental civil and criminal laws. This includes the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (“APPS”), which contains a whistleblower reward provision that encourages workers to come forward and combat pollution. In addition, Kanto Kosan is likely subject to False Claims Act liability for violating provisions of its contract with the U.S. Navy.
These last few years have seen an increase in both settlements relating to environmental fraud, at the same time as governments have introduced more incentives for reporting environmental fraud.
Whistleblowers can obtain rewards for reporting other types of environmental abuse, from misrepresentations to the government of the amount of resources extracted from public lands to overcharges on environmental cleanup projects. In addition, whistleblower rewards are available under a range of wildlife protection laws like the Endangered Species Act or the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act.
This newly revealed investigation is a strong reminder that whistleblowers who report fraud can play a key role in protecting the environment and helping curb the effects of global warming.
Constantine Cannon specializes in assisting whistleblowers with reporting fraud in a wide range of industries. If you have information about environmental fraud, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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