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Press Release

Captain of Oil Tanker Pleads Guilty to Obstruction and Violating Ship Pollution Prevention Laws

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Two Companies that Operated the Oil Tanker Pleaded Guilty Last Month Following Deliberate Oil Dumping

Captain Abdurrahman Korkmaz, 37, pleaded guilty today to a two-count information charging him with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and for obstructing proceedings. Korkmaz, a Turkish national, was the captain of the PS Dream, a Panama-flagged motor tanker. The two related companies that operated the PS Dream pleaded guilty last month to environmental crimes.

The PS Dream arrived in New Orleans on Jan. 26, 2023. The U.S. Coast Guard conducted an inspection which included a review of the vessel’s oil record books. In his plea, Korkmaz acknowledges presenting the books to the Coast Guard knowing that they omitted information about discharging oily waste to the ocean before arriving in the United States. The falsified logs were intended to conceal the fact that beginning on Jan. 11, the crew had dumped oil-contaminated waste overboard on the voyage to New Orleans and was not complying with international treaties regulating oil pollution from ships.

According to documents and statements filed in court, Korkmaz ordered his crew to pump overboard from the residual oil tank which contained oily waste. A portable pump placed inside the tank and connected to a long flexible hose was used to discharge directly into the ocean without any required pollution prevention equipment or monitoring. The waste oil, including sludge, originated in the engine room and had been improperly transferred into the residual oil tank on the deck of the ship by a prior crew.

Senior managers at Prive Shipping LLC and Prive Shipping Denizcilik Ticaret – two related companies that operated the ship – were aware that the oil-contaminated waste remained in the tank and were informed by Korkmaz that it had been dumped overboard. Both companies pleaded guilty and are scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 26.

Korkmaz is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 10. He faces a maximum penalty of six years in prison, with a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gain or loss from the offense, for the APPS charge. He also faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, with a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gain or loss from the offense, for the obstruction charge. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division; U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana; Special Agent in Charge Damon J. Youmans of the Coast Guard Investigative Service’s Gulf Field Office and Captain Greg Callaghan, Commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans made the announcement.

The Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigations Division investigated the case with assistance from U.S. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans.

Senior Litigation Counsel Richard A. Udell and Senior Trial Attorney Ryan Connors of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys G. Dall Kammer and Christine M. Calogero for the Eastern District of Louisiana are prosecuting the case.

Updated June 11, 2024

Topic
Environment
Press Release Number: 24-738