Ferry Co. Charged with Dumping Sewage

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A company based in Marblehead was charged on Jan. 7 in federal court with dumping sewage into North Shore waters from a popular ferry it operates out of Salem. United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Rear Admiral J. L. Nimmich, United States Coast Guard, Commander, First Coast Guard District and William Schenkelberg, Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Region of the Coast Guard Investigative Service, announced today that The Rockmore Company, Inc. was charged in a Criminal Information with two violations of the Rivers and Harbors Act arising out of its practice of dumping human waste into local waters.

The Information alleges that, from 1990 to 2006, the company has operated a 59-ft long passenger vessel named the P/V Hannah Glover based in Salem. The Hannah Glover provides dinner cruises and sightseeing tours in the waters along the shores of the Massachusetts towns of Marblehead, Beverly and Manchester-by-the-Sea. On several occasions, the vessel ferried passengers to the Charles River in Boston to view the annual 4th of July celebration on the Charles River Esplanade. The company also regularly shuttled children from Marblehead to a summer camp on Children’s Island just off the Massachusetts coast. The company also operated a 116-ft barge called the P/V Rockmore, on which the company maintained a restaurant.

The Information further alleges that for many years crew members routinely utilized the ship’s sewage pump to discharge raw sewage directly overboard. Ordinarily, deck hands activated the pump and opened the overboard discharge valve either upon order of the master of the vessel, or upon observing the overflowing of the vessel’s public toilets.

The Information further alleges that the discharges took place at various locations along the Massachusetts coast, including in Salem Harbor and off beaches in Marblehead and Beverly, as well as in the Charles River near the Esplanade during the 4th of July celebrations in 2002. The discharges ranged in amount in the hundreds of gallons. The sewage discharged from the Hannah Glover included the waste generated by its passengers, as well as the sewage from the Rockmore, as the company’s employees routinely pumped the contents of the Rockmore’s sewage holding tank onto the Hannah Glover for disposal. During some summers, the company allowed the sewage holding tank aboard the Rockmore intermittently to overflow, such that raw, untreated sewage spilled into Salem Harbor.

The case was investigated by the Coast Guard Investigative Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell of Ortiz's Economic Crimes Unit, and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Russell Bowman and Cassie Kitchen of the United States Coast Guard. The details contained in the Information are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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