Shipping Companies and Engineers Indicted for Concealing Oil Pollution
A grand jury in Seattle has indicted two shipping companies and two engineers for crimes related to the illegal discharge of oily wastewater from the cargo ship M/V Gallia Graeca.
The ship’s operator, Angelakos (Hellas) S.A., its owner, Gallia Greaca Shipping, Ltd, and engineers Konstantinos Chrysovergis and Tryfon Angelou were arraigned on the indictment on March 24.
Angelakos (Hellas) S.A. is a Panama company. Gallia Greaca Shipping, Ltd is a Cyprus company.
According to the indictment, the M/V Gallia Graeca travelled from China to Seattle in October 2015. During the voyage, a pollution-control device known as an oily water separator was inoperable, resulting in the accumulation of untreated oily water. The defendants operated the equipment in a way that bypassed safeguards that prevent the discharge of oily water, resulting in the discharge of more than 5,000 gallons of contaminated water.
The indictment alleges that the defendants concealed these incidents from the Coast Guard by making false statements to inspectors, and making false statements and omissions in the ship’s record book. When Coast Guard inspectors asked the engineers to operate the oil water separator during the inspection, the engineers did so in such a way that the equipment appeared to be working properly even though it was not.
The two engineers and the two companies operating the ship are charged with falsification of records in a federal investigation, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison; with concealment of material information from the United States, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison; and with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, which is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment. Each count of conviction is also punishable by a $500,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division.