Company sentenced for oil pollution and ballast water crimes in US
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, and John Sall, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, announced the sentencing of one of the Florida’s corporation, for oil pollution and ballast water crimes.
The company had previously pled guilty to one count of failure to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book, in violation of 33 U.S.C. § 1908(a); and one count of failing to submit reports to the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse, in violation of 16 U.S.C. § 4711(g)(2).
U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan sentenced the company to five years of probation and a $1,000,000.00 fine. As part of the corporation’s probation, the ship owner must complete an Environmental Compliance Plan in connection with eight ships in their fleet. Judge Jordan further directed that out of the $1,000,000.00 fine, $500,000.00 be directed to the South Florida National Parks Trust, a charitable and non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, for the benefit, preservation, and restoration of the environment and ecosystems of the waters of the United States in South Florida.
According to the factual proffer, the senteced comany operated the vessel from a terminal on the Miami River. On or about August 9, 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard embarked the vessel to conduct a port state control examination. They noticed excessive oil and diesel fuel leaking from various components of the ship’s main diesel engine. The Coast Guard asked the ship’s chief engineer to operate the ship’s Oil Water Separator, the pivotal equipment on board the ship for the management of oily waste. The Oil Water Separator did not function properly and gave inconsistent readings. The Coast Guard opened the Oil Water Separator’s content meter and observed that it contained untreated, viscous oil.
The Coast Guard then examined the vessel’s Oil Record Book. The Oil Record Book contained six fictitious entries showing purported usage of the Oil Water Separator that, in reality, had never occurred. Overall, the Oil Record Book did not provide any accounting for how the company and the crew of the vessel handled the ship’s oily waste.
The Coast Guard then examined a log in the engine room entitled, the “Night Orders Book.” An entry dated January 10, 2010 contained an order from the ship’s chief engineer to his staff to “Always pump out the bilge water. When finished, wash the pump with sea water for 20 minutes to clean out the line. If you don’t do it, you’ll bring pollution problems, especially in Miami.”
Finally, the vessel departed the waters of a foreign country and arrived in Miami on July 29, 2010, without making the required report to the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse. The National Ballast Information Clearinghouse is a joint program of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the U.S. Coast Guard. Its mandate is to understand and prevent the introduction of non-indigenous species to the fresh, brackish, and saltwater environments of the United States.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services. This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Raich.
Source: US Department of Justice
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