Shipping Company, Chief Engineer and Second Engineer Indicted for Covering up Pollution
WASHINGTON—A federal grand jury in Newark, N.J., has returned an eight-count indictment charging a Liberian company that manages an oceangoing bulk carrier vessel, M/V Myron N, along with the ship’s chief engineer and second engineer for covering up discharges of oil-contaminated waste at sea, the Justice Department announced today.
Dalnave Navigation Inc., a company incorporated in Liberia with offices in Athens, Greece, Chief Engineer Panagiotis Stamatakis and Second Engineer Dimitrios Papadakis, both of Greece, were each charged with conspiracy and violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) by failing to maintain an accurate ship record concerning the disposal of oil-contaminated waste. They were also charged with making false statements to U.S. Coast Guard authorities regarding the pumping of oil-contaminated waste overboard and five counts of obstruction of justice concerning the statements made to the Coast Guard.
The indictment alleges that between 2004 and September 2008, Dalnave, and more recently through its two senior engineers on the M/V Myron N, Stamatakis and Papadakis, directed subordinate crew members to use a metal pipe to bypass the ship’s oil water separator and instead discharge the oil-contaminated waste directly overboard. Thereafter, on Sept. 8, 2008, in the port of Newark, N.J., the defendants presented a fabricated oil record book that failed to disclose prior discharges into the ocean of oil-contaminated waste by the M/V Myron N. The indictment alleges the defendants knowingly maintained the oil record book that failed to disclose the overboard discharge of oil-contaminated waste without the use of the ship’s pollution prevention equipment and further alleges that the defendants falsely stated to Coast Guard authorities that, among other things, they never ordered the pumping of oil-contaminated waste overboard.
Federal and international law requires that all ships follow pollution regulations that include proper disposal of oily water through an oil water separator on board the vessel. Large vessels generate oil-contaminated water waste when water mixes in the bottom of the vessel, the bilge, with oil leaked from the machinery and the lubrication and fuel systems. Such oil-contaminated bilge waste may properly be disposed of by off-loading it to a licensed hauler and disposal facility at port, or by discharging it overboard after the oil is separated out using the vessel’s oil water separator. Federal law further requires ships to accurately record each disposal of oil-contaminated bilge water in an oil record book and to have the oil record book available for inspection by the Coast Guard within the internal waters of the United States.
If convicted, Dalnave faces a statutory maximum fine of $500,000 on each of the eight counts or, alternatively, twice the gross gain resulting from the offenses. If convicted of the conspiracy, obstruction of justice and false statement charges, Stamatakis and Papadakis face up to 5 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine per count. If convicted on the APPS charge, the two face up to 6 years in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard, Sector New York, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Mid-Atlantic Region and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by Gary N. Donner of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen P. O’Leary for the District of New Jersey, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Mooradian of the U.S. Coast Guard First District Legal Office.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.