Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Paula D. Silsby, United States Attorney for the District of Maine, announced today that two chief engineers of a freighter ship were each sentenced yesterday to two years of probation and a fine of $3000 for their roles in concealing the overboard ocean dumping of waste oil from the M/V Kent Navigator through false log books and statements designed to deceive the U.S. Coast Guard. The defendants, Chief Engineers Alfredo D. Lozada
and Felipe B. Arcolas
, worked aboard the Kent Navigator, which is owned and operated by Petraia Maritime Ltd.
The government’s investigation began when the U.S. Coast Guard received an anonymous tip that a vessel bound for Portland, Maine was illegally discharging its waste oil and its bilges while at sea. MARPOL, which is a treaty ratified by the United States, and U.S. law limit the oil content of discharges from ships to no more than 15 parts per million. Oil pollution control equipment, called an Oil Water Separator, is equipment required by these laws that, when operated correctly, will prevent discharges of oil in excess of 15 parts per million.
The Coast Guard inspected the Kent Navigator when it entered the port and found oily residue in piping that led to overboard discharge valves and inoperable oil pollution control equipment. The Coast Guard’s investigation revealed that while the vessel was at sea, Lozada and Arcolas directed the ship’s crew to discharge waste oil tanks and bilge tanks directly overboard, and also discharged the bilges in a way that circumvented the ship’s Oil Water Separator. These discharges were made in the middle of the night while at sea, and resulted in discharge of significant quantities of oil.
To conceal this activity Arcolas and Lozada falsified records in the ship’s Oil Record Book making it appear as if the discharges were made using the required pollution control equipment when in fact they were not. An Oil Record Book is a pollution record required by MARPOL and U.S. law that is regularly inspected and relied upon by the Coast Guard, which was presented for review during the Coast Guard’s inspection. They also made false statements to the Coast Guard while in port that the ship’s pollution control equipment functioned properly.
U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby also ordered that Lozada and Arcolas spend the first month of their probation confined to their temporary residence in Portland where they have been living since they were removed from their ship last summer by the Coast Guard and charged with making false statements. The two will be allowed to return to their homes in the Philippines to serve out their probation terms, subject to U.S. court supervision.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative
Service with assistance from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, the Coast Guard First District Legal Office, and the Coast Guard Head Quarters Office of Investigation and Analysis. The case was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Main. The investigation is continuing.
Source: HK Law