Ship owner, crewman plead guilty to dumping oily bilge
Singapore-based Odfjell Asia II Pte Ltd. and one of its senior crewmen pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Hartford, Conn., for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, the Justice Department said.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Odfjell’s chemical tanker Bow Lind was boarded by the Coast Guard in New Haven on Nov. 6, 2012, for inspection. The inspection and subsequent criminal investigation revealed that three times between October 2011 and October 2012, while in international waters, the vessel discharged oily bilge directly into the sea.
The Coast Guard said at the direction of senior engineer Ramil Leuterio, crewmen bypassed pollution prevention equipment that was in place to ensure any discharged bilge water contain less than 15 parts per million of oil. The crew then concealed the illegal discharges by making misleading entries and omissions in the vessel’s oil record book.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, if accepted by the court, Odfjell will be placed on three years probation and pay a criminal penalty of $1.2 million, including $300,000 that will be directed to The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund projects aimed at the preservation and restoration of the marine environment of Long Island Sound.
The ship owner will also implement an environmental management plan that ensures any of its ships calling on a U.S. port complies with all environmental requirements set by international, flag state and port state laws.
Leuterio, 42, a Philippine citizen, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. He faces a maximum of six years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant has scheduled sentencing for May 14.
“Shipping companies are on notice that violating American environment laws will result in federal prosecution and puts at risk their business interests in this country,” said U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly in a statement. “Crew members who ignore these laws may also face incarceration.”
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