Norwegian Shipping Company And Engineering Officers Convicted With Environmental Crimes And Obstruction Of Justice
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Alabama
United States Attorney Kenyen R. Brown of the Southern District of Alabama announced federal jury in Mobile, Alabama, after a two week jury trial convicted Det Stavangerske Dampskibsselskab AS (DSD) and three employees with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering,. DSD is a Norwegian-based shipping company that operates the oil tanker M/T Stavanger Blossom, a vessel engaged in the international transportation of crude oil. Also convicted at trial were three engineering officers, Bo Gao, Xiaobing Chen, and Xin Zhong, employed by DSD to work aboard the vessel. Daniel Paul Dancu a fourth engineer pled guilty in October.
In 2014 DSD and its employees conspired to bypass pollution prevention equipment aboard the M/T Stavanger Blossom and to conceal the direct discharge of approximately 20,000 gallons waste oil and oil-contaminated waste water from the vessel into the sea over a two month period. The operation of marine vessels, like the M/T Stavanger Blossom, generates large quantities of waste oil and oil-contaminated waste water. International and U.S. law requires that these vessels use pollution prevention equipment to preclude the discharge of these materials. Should any overboard discharges occur, they must be documented in an oil record book, a log that is regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard. DSD and the engineering officers were convicted of violating the APPS for failing to record overboard discharges in the vessel’s oil record book and garbage record book, and with obstruction of justice and witness tampering for presenting false documents and deceiving the Coast Guard during an inspection.
DSD could be fined up to $500,000 per count, in addition to other possible penalties. Gao, Chen, and Zhong face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the obstruction of justice charges
Resident Agent in Charge John Allen with the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service stated, "CGIS is dedicated to holding those individuals and Corporations accountable who violate United States and International law. CGIS will vigorously prosecute anyone who presents false documents to the U.S. Coast Guard or obstructs vessel examinations performed by the U.S. Coast Guard."
United States Attorney, Kenyen R. Brown was pleased with the outcome of the trial. Brown went on to say, "I am pleased with the record of this office in pursuing environmental crimes. We will continue to prosecute corporations and individuals to protect our resources here along the Gulf Coast as well as around the World. We need to ensure that all foreign vessels and corporations comply with U.S. Coast Guard Examinations to ensure these resources are protected."
This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Mobile, U.S. Coast Guard District Eight, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services and the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigations Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Anderson, with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Alabama, and ECS Trial Attorney Shane N. Waller prosecuted the case.
Updated November 19, 2015