Published October 24, 2007 04:48 PM

Conoco unit pleads guilty to hiding Alaska spill

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A shipping company owned by ConocoPhillips' pleaded guilty to concealing a 2004 oil spill in the ocean off Alaska and was ordered to pay $2.5 million for the offense, officials said.

Polar Tankers Inc. entered its guilty plea in U.S. District Court on Tuesday and was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine and a $2 million community-service payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Federal officials said the 895-foot tanker Polar Discovery spilled oil sludge in the open ocean in January 2004 and attempted to conceal the incident by turning into the wind to clean the sludge from the vessel's side.

"Not only did they not put it in the record book, but they took action to cover it up," said Assistant Attorney Karen Loeffler.



A spokesman for ConocoPhillips in Houston said the company took several corrective measures as soon as it learned about the incident.

"We do take any violation of laws or company policies very seriously," spokesman Rich Johnson said Wednesday.

The company also was placed on three years' probation and ordered to comply with an environmental-compliance program.

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