Chief Engineer Sentenced in Tacoma
Chun Do Oh, Chief Engineer of the M/V Rubin Stella sentenced to twelve months plus one day in prison for presenting false entries in an Oil Record Book to the United States Coast Guard. These entries concealed the fact that he had directed the dumping of waste oil and oil sludges from this ship into the Pacific Ocean. The sentencing was announced today by John McKay, United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington and Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the United States Department of Justice.
The M/V Rubin Stella is a Panamanian-Flagged, bulk carrier vessel of 16,789 gross tons used to transport timber. In May 2002, vessel inspectors from the Washington State Department of Ecology and the United States Coast Guard boarded the M/V Rubin Stella in the Port of Longview, Washington, after the Coast Guard received information that the Canadian Royal Air Force, while conducting a drift net fisheries patrol, had observed the ship sailing with an oil sheen in its wake. During the boarding, inspectors found oil laden parts of what they believed to be remnants of a hose like device used to circumvent or “bypass” the Oil Water Separator, an oil pollution prevention device, and dump sludge and other oily wastes overboard. This discovery led to an investigation which ultimately revealed the false statements.
International law and U.S. law requires that the Chief Engineer or other ship officers record all transfers of oil, the disposal of sludge and bilge water, and any overboard discharges of oily waste in the Oil Record Book maintained onboard the vessel. On July 24, 2002, Mr. Oh entered a guilty plea to a charge of knowingly making a false statement, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, based upon the false entries which Chun Do Oh made in the Oil Record Book onboard the M/V Rubin Stella. As part of his guilty plea, Chun Do Oh admitted that during the period from July 31, 2001, through June 23, 2002, while he was Chief Engineer onboard the M/V Rubin Stella, he had directed other crew members to discharge oily bilge waste and oily sludges overboard without any form of treatment. These discharges were not recorded in the Oil Record Book. Rather, he made false entries in that book designed to conceal the discharges.
This matter was investigated by the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Spill Prevention Program, the United States Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division, and prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington and the Environmental Crimes Section of the United States Department of Justice.