WASHINGTON, D.C. – Noel Abrogar, Chief Engineer of the M/V Magellan Phoenix, was sentenced to imprisonment for one year and one day, and three years of probation for falsifying records that attempted to conceal repeated overboard discharges of oil waste from the ship, the Justice Department announced today. Abrogar pleaded guilty on September 7, 2005 to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, based on his role in discharging oil sludge and oil-contaminated bilge waste directly into the ocean from the M/V Magellan Phoenix and then falsifying the ship’s records to cover up the discharges between December 2004 and March 2005. “We are committed to protecting our oceans by vigorously prosecuting pollution from ships,” said David M. Uhlmann, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Deliberate vessel pollution and obstruction of justice are serious crimes, and today’s sentence demonstrates that defendants who violate anti-pollution laws will be prosecuted and will serve time in prison.” The government’s investigation began on March 25, 2005 after the United States Coast Guard discovered evidence of the discharges and false records during an inspection of the M/V Magellan Phoenix in Gloucester, New Jersey. In the course of their inspection, Coast Guard inspectors learned that the M/V Magellan Phoenix had routinely discharged oil sludge and oil-contaminated bilge water directly overboard into the ocean without using the ship’s oil water separator, and without recording these discharges as required in the ship’s oil record book.
Engine room operations on board large oceangoing vessels such as the M/V Magellan Phoenix generate large amounts of waste oil. International and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of waste oil without treatment by an oil water separator—a required pollution prevention device. Law also requires all overboard discharges be recorded in an oil record book, a required log which is regularly inspected by the Coast Guard.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service and the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division, and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section. The case was initiated by the Marine Inspectors and Marine Investigators from Coast Guard Sector in Philadelphia.