Greek shipowner Ilios Shipping Company S.A. was sentenced today in federal court in New Orleans to pay a fine of $2 million for intentionally trying to cover-up oil pollution from one of its bulk carriers and obstruction of justice.
According to the Department of Justice release, the M/V Agios Emilianos, a 738 foot bulk carrier operated by Ilios Shipping, routinely discharged oily bilge waste and sludge directly into the sea while shipping grain from New Orleans to ports across the world from April 2009 to April 2011.
The master of the vessel, Valentino Mislang, had previously plead guilty for his role in the dumping, apparently instructing his crewmembers to lie during a USCG inspection in April 2011 and destroying computer records, as directed by a senior manager of Ilios.
A similar scenario played out for the chief engineer of the vessel, Romulo Esperas, when he admitted that a senior manager of Ilios directed him to discharge the vessel’s oily waster into the sea and said the manager refused to pay for properly discharging the oil waste at shore-side facilities. Esperas plead guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice for his role in falsifying the vessel’s oil record book and directing the discharge of the waste directly into the sea.
Both Mislang and Esperas were sentenced to three years of unsupervised release and cannot re-enter the United States during that time.
The incident is the latest in what seems to be a crack down by the USCG, the EPA, and the DOJ, on both foreign and domestic vessels violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).
“The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute shipping companies who break the laws that protect our oceans,” said Assistant Attorney General Moreno. “The penalty imposed by this sentence holds Ilios fully accountable for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, and a part of the penalty will fund projects that will help restore precious marine and aquatic resources in Louisiana.”
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard, their partners in the Environmental Protection Agency and our brethren in the U. S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, along with our own U.S. Attorney’s Office professionals, for their continued vigilance in this and other cases protecting our precious environment, coastline and water resources from those unscrupulous companies and individuals who clandestinely and wantonly discharge oily waste into our waters,” said U.S. Attorney Letten.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see many environmental crimes cases involving ocean-going commercial vessels. The Coast Guard will continue to hold non-compliant companies and operators accountable when they break the law and endanger the marine environment or public health,” added Rear Admiral Roy A. Nash, Eighth Coast Guard District Commander.
The court ordered Ilios to pay an overall criminal penalty of $2 million, of which the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will receive $250,000 to fund projects aimed at the restoration of marine and aquatic resources in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
In addition to the fine, Ilios Shipping Company will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan to ensure that any ship it operates complies with all maritime environmental requirements established under applicable international, flag state and port state laws.