The U.S. Department of Justice on Saturday (21 March) issued Singapore-based shipping company Unix Line Pte Ltd. a $1.65 million fine, while placing the firm on probation for a period of four years where it will have to follow a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan.
This follows Unix Line’s decision to plead guilty to a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships in February.
In pleading guilty, Unix Line admitted that its crew members onboard the Zao Galaxy, a 26,198 dwt, ocean-going motor tanker, knowingly failed to record in the vessel’s oil record book the overboard discharge of oily bilge water without the use of required pollution-prevention equipment, during the vessel’s voyage from the Philippines to Richmond, California, said the U.S. Court.
“Deliberately concealing illegal discharges of oil waste into our oceans is a federal crime we will not tolerate,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“This sentencing shows that polluting our oceans and misleading the Coast Guard will cost you.”
“The defendant’s crew members intentionally discharged oily bilge waste into the ocean on their voyage to California,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson of the Northern District of California.
“Our district includes hundreds of miles of the beautiful Pacific coast, stretching from Monterey to Del Norte County.”
“We will do our part to protect those natural resources and hold companies responsible when they fail to follow federal and international laws designed to protect our oceans from pollution.”
On 24 October 2019, Unix Line was indicted by a federal Grand Jury for obstruction of justice and a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Under the plea agreement, Unix Line pled guilty to one count of a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
According to the plea agreement, Unix Line is the operator of the Zao Galaxy, which set sail from the Philippines on Jan. 21, 2019, heading toward Richmond, California, carrying a cargo of palm oil.
On Feb. 11, 2019, the Zao Galaxy arrived in Richmond, where it underwent a U.S. Coast Guard inspection and examination. Examiners discovered that during the voyage, a Unix Line-affiliated ship officer directed crew members to discharge oily bilge water overboard, using a configuration of drums, flexible pipes, and flanges to bypass the vessel’s oil water separator.
The discharges were knowingly not recorded in the Zao Galaxy’s oil record book when it was presented to the U.S. Coast Guard during the vessel’s inspection.
Photo credit: Marine Traffic / M.L. Jacobs
Published: 25 March, 2020
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