Steven E. Avery, 56, of Bohannon, VA, Billy J. Avery, 81, of Virginia Beach, VA, and the corporation Sea Solutions, Inc., all pleaded guilty yesterday in Norfolk federal court to various environmental crimes stemming from their activities in the ship scrapping business.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement that the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen. The three will all be sentenced on July 12, 2012. Steven and Billy Avery each face a minimum 30 days and a maximum of 1 year in prison, Sea Solutions, Inc., faces up to a $500,000 fine and five years of probation.
According to court documents, Steven E. Avery and Billy J. Avery operated the defendant corporation, Sea Solutions, Inc. In February 2010, Sea Solutions, Inc. purchased a vessel known as M/V Snow Bird for the purpose of scrapping with the knowledge that it contained a quantity of petroleum products and other pollutants. Despite knowing that these waste products were onboard the M/V Snow Bird and needed to be removed, the defendants commenced scrapping operations with the pollutants onboard. Over the course of several months, witnesses complained of pollutants emanating from the M/V Snow Bird. Finally, in October of 2010, the defendants caused a major spill of oil, oily water, and other pollutants from the M/V Snow Bird into the Elizabeth River. The cleanup operation removed several thousand gallons of oily waste from the Elizabeth River and the shoreline at the cost to the United States of over $66,000.
“America’s waterways must be protected from companies that look to cut corners by discharging oily waste water illegally,” said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criminal enforcement program in Virginia. “Improper waste disposal endangers not only the environment but human health. EPA is committed to making sure criminal violations of environmental laws are not tolerated.”
This case was investigated by agents from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph L. Kosky and Melissa O’Boyle are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.