Singapore Shipping Company And Crew Member Responsible For Oily Waste Discharge Are Sentenced
Singapore-based ODFJELL ASIA II PTE LTD. and a senior crew member of one of its ships were sentenced yesterday in federal court in Hartford, Conn., for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), announced United States Attorney Deirdre M. Daly, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division Robert G. Dreher, and Rear Admiral Daniel B. Abel, Commander of the First Coast Guard District in Boston. ODFJELL was sentenced to a term of probation and ordered to pay a $1.2 criminal penalty, and the crew member, Ramil Leuterio, was sentenced to three months of imprisonment. ODFJELL and Leuterio pleaded guilty on March 3, 2014.
According to court documents and statements made in court, ODFJELL ASIA II PTE LTD. (ODFJELL) operated the M/T Bow Lind, a 577-foot, 26,327 gross ton petroleum/chemical tanker ship. On November 6, 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard boarded the vessel in New Haven to conduct an inspection. The inspection and subsequent criminal investigation revealed that three times between October 2011 and October 2012, while in international waters, the vessel discharged machinery space bilge water directly into the sea. At the direction of senior engineer Leuterio, crew members bypassed pollution prevention equipment that was in place to ensure that any discharged bilge water contain less than 15 parts per million of oil. The illegal discharges were then concealed by misleading entries and omissions in the vessel’s oil record book.
According to several engine room crew members, Leuterio directed 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. 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. As the pollution prevention equipment automatically records the time it is being operated, Leuterio then processed the clean water through the prevention equipment, thereby creating an electronic record to account for the bilge water that had bypassed the equipment and been discharged directly overboard.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant sentenced ODFJELL to a three-year term of probation and ordered the company to pay a criminal penalty totaling $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.
As a condition of probation, ODFJELL will implement an environmental management plan which will ensure that any ship operated by ODFJELL calling on a port of the United States complies with all maritime environmental requirements established under applicable international, flag state, and port state laws. The plan ensures that ODFJELL’s employees and the crew of any vessel operated by ODFJELL that calls on a United States port are properly trained in preventing maritime pollution. An independent monitor will report to the court regarding ODFJELL’s compliance with these obligations during the period of probation.
Leuterio, 42, a citizen of the Philippines, will be deported after he serves his three-month prison term.
The government has requested that Judge Bryant award a portion of the criminal fine imposed to two M/T Bow Lind crew members who notified the Coast Guard of the criminal conduct on board the vessel, and whose information led directly to the convictions obtained in this matter. Judge Bryant will rule on the government’s motion after further court proceedings.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, Coast Guard Investigative Service, and Coast Guard office of Investigations and Analysis (CG-INV). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. McConnell from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and Trial Attorney Stephen Da Ponte in the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.
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