Kassian Maritime Pleads Guilty to Vessel Pollution-Related Charges

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Kassian Maritime Navigation Agency Ltd. pleaded guilty to maintaining a false record pertaining to the illegal dumping of bilge and wastewater into the ocean from the M/V North Princess, an ocean-going bulk cargo ship traveling to ports in the United States, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Per the terms of the plea agreement, the defendant will pay a criminal fine $1m, serve a term of probation of 30 months, and pay $300,000 to fund community service projects through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In addition, Kassian will implement an environmental compliance program prevent such violations in the future. A sentencing date has not yet been determined.

In March 2007, Kassian was indicted on charges related to maintaining false records and obstruction of justice, and the North Princess’ Second Assistant Engineer, Spyridon Markou, was charged with obstruction of justice. Kassian pleaded guilty to Count One, which charged it with maintaining false records in violation the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, and Markou pleaded guilty today to an information charging him with making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard in relation to the agency’s inspection of the vessel in November 2006. Markou faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years.

Engine room operations on board large oceangoing vessels such as the North Princess generate large amounts of waste oil. International and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of waste oil without treatment by an oil water separator. The law also requires that all overboard discharges be recorded in an oil record book, a required log which is regularly inspected by the Coast Guard. According to the plea agreements, on Nov. 20, 2006, the North Princess arrived in port in Jacksonville, Fla., and was boarded by Coast Guard officials who conducted an inspection to determine the vessel’s compliance with national and international environmental laws. The Coast Guard’s inspection uncovered evidence that Kassian, acting through its agents and employees, knowingly failed to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book recording all disposals of oil residue and discharges overboard, in violation of federal law. Second Engineer Markou admitted, as part of his plea, that he made false statements to the Coast Guard regarding his knowledge of the ship’s use of an illegal bypass pipe to transfer oil-contaminated waste overboard.

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