Ship Operator Pleads Guilty to Crimes Related to Pollution from Cargo Ship
A ship management company has pleaded guilty in a United District Court in Corpus Christi and was sentenced today for deliberately concealing pollution discharges from the ship into the sea and for falsifying its oil record book.
Chandris (Hellas) Inc. is headquartered in Greece and operated the M/V Sestrea, an 81,502-ton cargo ship that made calls in multiple ports in Texas.
Chandris pleaded guilty to a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to properly maintain an oil record book as required by federal and international law, as well as a violation of making a false statement for making a false entry in the ship’s oil record book.
According to a statement of facts filed with the court, on or about Dec. 18, 2014, the chief engineering officer on board the M/V Sestrea caused a vessel system to discharge oily water in excess of 15 parts per million overboard into the sea.
Federal and international law requires that all ships comply with pollution regulations that include the proper disposal of oily water and sludge. Federal law also requires ships to accurately record each disposal of oily water or sludge in an oil record book and to have the record book available for the U.S. Coast Guard when the vessel is within the waters of the United States.
According to court documents, the chief engineer knowingly failed to make the required entries into the oil record book including the fact that oily waste had been discharged directly into the sea. The chief engineer also made false entries in the oil record book to conceal the fact that the pollution control equipment had not been used. The crewmembers then attempted to conceal the discharge during a Coast Guard boarding at the port in Corpus Christi by providing the falsified oil record book to the boarding crew.
Shortly following the plea, U.S. District Judge Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ordered the company to pay an $800,000 criminal fine along with a $200,000 community service payment to the congressionally-established National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The money will be designated for use by the Flower Garden and Stetson Banks National Marine Sanctuary in Galveston.
Chandris was also sentenced to three years probation. As a condition of the probation, all ships Chandris manages and are involved in transporting crude oil will be forced to comply with an environmental compliance plan.
“Environmental crimes continue to occur,” said Rear Admiral David R. Callahan, Eighth District Coast Guard Commander. “The Coast Guard will not tolerate the pollution of our marine environment and endangering of the public health.”
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