Engineer Pleads Guilty to Pollution Charge

Monday, October 28, 2002
Duk Jo Jeong, a first assistant engineer of a Toyota car carrier ship, pled guilty to making a false statement to the United States Coast Guard concerning the disposal of waste oil aboard the Cygnus. The Cygnus car carrier ship which transported automobiles between Japan and the United States. Jeong was immediately sentenced to two years of probation by Judge Garr M. King; he will then be deported to Korea. Judge King noted that Jeong, a Korean national, had already been involuntarily detained in Portland for six months during the pendency of his case. As First Assistant Engineer of the Cygnus, Jeong was responsible for overseeing all of the operations of the engine room, including the disposal of waste oil. Under MARPOL, the governing marine pollution treaty, ocean-going ships are prohibited from dumping oil into the ocean, and are required to maintain an oil record book which records all transfers, disposal, and discharge of oil aboard the vessel. On April 10, 2002, U.S. government authorities, acting on a tip from a former crew member, executed a search warrant aboard the Cygnus. During the search, they found the flexible hose which the Cygnus’ crew used to bypass the oil/water separator, a device designed to prevent the discharge of oil into the ocean. In addition, they found fresh paint on the ship’s overboard valve intended to conceal the fact that the bypass hose had been disconnected and hidden before the Cygnus arrived in Portland. When the overboard valve was dismantled during the search, it was found to be contaminated with oil. Further, a diver inspecting Cygnus’ hull found a long streak of oil on the side of the ship behind the discharge hole. When First Assistant Engineer Jeong was asked whether the bypass hose found on the Cygnus was used to dump waste oil in the ocean, he replied, “No, no, I use incinerator!” At the plea change hearing today, Jeong admitted that his response was false, and that the engine room crew instead discharged waste oil in the ocean. The Cygnus is a 623-foot car carrier owned by Feng Li Maritime Corporation and operated by Fujitrans Corporation. The vessel was under charter to ToyoFuji Shipping, Co., Ltd., a company jointly owned by Toyota Motor Co., Toyota Shipping Co., Ltd., and Fujitrans Corporation. It is used to transport Toyota and Lexus automobiles from Japan to the United States. A co-defendant, Chief Engineer Pyeong Gab Jeong pled guilty on July 25, 2002, to making false entries in the oil record book of the Cygnus. The investigation was conducted by the United States Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Washington State Department of Ecology. The prosecution was conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon and the Environmental Crimes Section of the United States Department of Justice.

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