Source: New Haven Register (CT), March 4, 2014
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
A Singapore shipping company agreed to pay a $1.2 million penalty after it admitted to illegally dumping oily wastewater in international waters, the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut said in a press release.
The company, Odfjell Asia II Pte Ltd, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, the release said.
If the company’s plea agreement is accepted by the court, about $300,000 of the penalty will go toward the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for projects that preserve and restore the marine environment of Long Island Sound, the release said.
Company senior engineer Ramil Leuterio, 42, a citizen of the Philippines, also pleaded guilty to one count of violating the act for his role in directing lower-ranking crew members to make the illegal discharges and for failing to accurately maintain the vessel’s oil record book, the release said. He faces a maximum of six years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Both defendants will be sentenced May 14.
Odjfell will implement an environmental management plan as part of the agreement. Odjfell will implement an environmental management plan as part of the agreement, it said.
Employees and the crew of any vessel operated by the company will be trained in preventing maritime pollution. An independent monitor will report to the court regarding the company’s compliance during its three-year probation, it said.
The violation was discovered during a Nov. 6, 2012, Coast Guard inspection in New Haven, the release said. Odjfell was operator of a 577-foot, 26,327 gross ton petroleum/chemical tanker that discharged machinery space bilge water directly into the sea three times between October 2011 and October 2012, the release said.
At the direction of Leuterio, crew members bypassed pollution prevention equipment that was designed to ensure that any discharged bilge water contain less than 15 parts per million of oil, the release said.
The crew then concealed the illegal discharges by making misleading entries and omissions in the vessel’s oil record book, it said.
Crew members said Leuterio told them to use a complex system to transfer the bilge water from the bilge holding tank to the sewage tank. From the sewage tank, the bilge water was dumped directly into the sea without passing through pollution prevention equipment, it said.
Once the bilge holding tank was emptied, Leuterio directed the lower ranking crew members to put clean fresh water and salt water into the tank, the release said. As the pollution prevention equipment automatically records the time it is being operated, Leuterio then processed the clean water through the prevention equipment, and created an electronic record to account for the bilge water that had bypassed the equipment and been discharged directly overboard, the release said.