Ship Owner, Manager and Chief Engineer Indicted for Covering Up Pollution

Boston, MA (DOJ) – Two foreign companies that own and operate an oceangoing chemical tanker named M/T Nautilus (IMO No. 9150767), together with the ship’s Chief Engineer, were indicted today in federal court for covering up discharges of oil-contaminated waste at sea.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Rear Admiral Dale G. Gabel, United States Coast Guard, Commander, First Coast Guard District, announced today that CONSULTORES de NAVEGACION, S.A. (“CONSULTORES”), a Spanish company, ICEPORT SHIPPING COMPANY LTD. (“ICEPORT SHIPPING”), a Cypriot company, and Chief Engineer CARMELO ORIA (“ORIA”), age 52, of Spain, were charged in a superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) by failing to maintain an accurate ship record concerning the disposal of oil-contaminated waste, and one count of making false statements to United States Coast Guard authorities regarding the pumping of oil-contaminated waste overboard. In addition, CONSULTORES and ICEPORT SHIPPING were charged with one count of falsifying records with an intent to impede the administration of a federal agency matter and one count of obstruction of justice.

Federal and international law requires that all ships follow pollution regulations that include proper disposal of oily water through an Oil Water Separator on board the vessel. Large vessels generate oil-contaminated water waste when water mixes in the bottom of the vessel (the bilge), with oil leaked and dripped from the machinery and the lubrication and fuel systems. Such oil-contaminated bilge waste may properly be disposed of by off-loading it to a licensed hauler and disposal facility at port, or by discharging it overboard after the oil is separated out using the vessel’s Oil Water Separator. Federal law further requires ships to accurately record each disposal of oil-contaminated bilge water in an Oil Record Book and to have the Oil Record Book available for inspection by the United States Coast Guard within the internal waters of the United States.

The superseding indictment alleges that between June 2007 and March 2008, CONSULTORES and ICEPORT SHIPPING, acting through ORIA and senior engineers on the M/T Nautilus, directed subordinate engine room crew members to use a metal pipe to bypass the M/T Nautilus’s Oil Water Separator and instead discharge oil-contaminated waste directly overboard. In particular, the superseding indictment alleges that on two occasions in August 2007, a Ukranian chief engineer of the M/T Nautilus directed the discharge of pollution overboard, and that on March 18, 2008, ORIA directed the discharge of pollution overboard. Thereafter, on March 22, 2008, in the port of Boston, Massachusetts, the Defendants made and used a false Oil Record Book that failed to disclose prior discharges into the ocean of oil-contaminated waste by the M/T Nautilus. The Defendants knowingly maintained an Oil Record Book that failed to disclose the overboard discharge of oil-contaminated waste without the use of the ship’s pollution prevention equipment. The superseding indictment further alleges that, on March 23, 2008, the Defendants falsely stated to United States Coast Guard authorities that, among other things, ORIA never ordered the pumping of oil-contaminated waste overboard.

If convicted, CONSULTORES and ICEPORT SHIPPING face a statutory maximum fine of $500,000 on each of the five counts or, alternatively, twice the gross gain resulting from the offenses.

If convicted on the conspiracy charge, ORIA faces up to 5 years imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. If convicted on the APPS charge, ORIA faces up to 6 years imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of the false statements charge, ORIA faces up to 5 years imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Boston, Coast Guard Investigative Service, New England Region. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda M. Ricci of Sullivan’s Economic Crimes Unit and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Jones of the United States Coast Guard First District Legal Office.

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