Chief Engineer Convicted in Pollution Case

John Konrad
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October 18, 2007

In the latest criminal proceedings related to Marine Pollution and the use of “Magic Pipes” the Chief Engineer aboard an American-flagged car-carrier ship was convicted of one count of conspiracy and two counts of making false statements. Marine Link has the report:

At trial, it was proven that the M/V Tanabata had a removable bypass pipe or “magic pipe” that was used to discharge oily waste without the use of an oily-water separator, a required pollution control devise. Ship's Oily Water SeparatorThe discharges were, however, falsely recorded as having been processed through the separator in the ship’s oil record book, a required log regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard. An engineer testified that the defendant referred to the bypass pipe as the “illegal pipe.” It was also shown during trial that the pipe was hidden when the ship was in port so that it would not be discovered by the Coast Guard.

Sentencing has been set for Jan. 10, 2008, before Judge William N. Nickerson. Humphries faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

The M/V Tanabata was operated by Pacific Gulf Marine, Inc. (PGM). PGM pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Jan. 27, 2007, to charges of making illegal discharges of oil-contaminated waste from each of four ships managed by the company. After learning of the investigation, PGM conducted and voluntarily disclosed the results of an internal investigation and cooperated with investigators and prosecutors. PGM was sentenced to pay a $1 million criminal fine and $500,000 in community service payments and to serve three years probation under the terms of an Environmental Compliance Program subject to court approval.

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