An Athens-based tanker operator has been fined $2.25 million in the United States after pleading guilty to environmental crimes relating to the discharge of oil and garbage from one of their vessels operating off the coast of Texas. The Master of the vessel has also been convicted and was sentenced to six months in jail.
According to a Justice Department release, Sea World Management & Trading Inc. and Captain Edmon Fajardo pleaded guilty on Monday to two felony violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book and Garbage Record Book onboard the MT Sea Faith.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, the company will pay a total fine of $2.25 million and serve a 3-year term of probation during which all vessels operated by the company and calling on U.S. ports will be required to implement a robust Environmental Compliance Plan.
Captain Fajardo was sentenced to six months incarceration to be followed by two years supervised release and a $2,000 fine.
In court, both sea World Management and Trading and Fajardo admitted that oil cargo residues and machinery space bilge water were illegally dumped from the Sea Faith directly into the ocean while the vessel was transiting to Corpus Christi, TX, without the use of required pollution prevention equipment. They further admitted that these discharges were not recorded in the vessel’s Oil Record Book as required by law.
Specifically, on five different occasions between March 10, 2017, and March 18, 2017, Fajardo ordered crew members to illegally discharge oily waste from various locations of the vessel’s cargo/deck spaces. These oily waste discharges bypassed the use of the vessel’s required oil discharge monitoring equipment and were done while the vessel was in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition, Sea World Management & Trading and Fajardo also admitted that on March 10, 2017, and March 15, 2017, Fajardo ordered crew members to throw plastics, empty steel drums, oily rags, batteries, and empty paint cans directly overboard into the ocean. None of these garbage discharges were recorded as required in the vessel’s Garbage Record Book.
The cases were investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division.