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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Tanker Crewmembers Plead Guilty to Environmental Crimes in the US

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 9, 2024

© Ghazanfar / Adobe Stock

© Ghazanfar / Adobe Stock

Crewmembers from a Greek oil tanker have admitted to environmental crimes in U.S. waters, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger and Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim announced.

Konstantinos Atsalis, the chief engineer on board the Kriti Ruby, admitted to charges related to the discharge of oily waste into the sea from a commercial vessel near a petroleum terminal in Sewaren, N.J. He and second engineer Sonny Bosito also admitted concealment of pollution from that vessel through the falsification of records.

Atsalis pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to an information charging him with two counts of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, including falsifying the vessel’s oil record book, while Bosito pleaded guilty to an information charging him with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Atsalis admitted that the vessel’s crew had knowingly bypassed required pollution prevention equipment by discharging oily waste from the vessel’s engine room through its sewage system into the sea, including near a petroleum offloading facility in Sewaren. Atsalis also admitted that he falsified the vessel’s oil record book, a required log regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard, by failing to record this illegal activity. Atsalis admitted that he directed crew members to hide equipment used to conduct transfers of oily waste from the engine room bilge wells to the sewage tank before the Coast Guard boarded the vessel.

In addition, Bosito admitted concealing the discharge of oily waste into the sea through the vessel’s sewage system by causing a false oil record book to be presented to the U.S. Coast Guard during its inspection of the vessel. Bosito admitted directing crew members to hide equipment used to conduct transfers from the bilge wells to the sewage tank before the Coast Guard’s inspection.

The charges each carry a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for October 22, 2024.