November 2, 2000
Tanker officers and shore supervisors indicted
Lynne A. Battaglia, the United States Attorney, and Lois J. Schiffer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment,this week announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging a tanker captain,chief engineer, two shore-based supervisors and two corporations with concealing a hazardous leak in the hull of a tanker that entered Baltimore earlier this year.
The Grand Jury Indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to conceal from the U.S. Coast Guard a condition that could have adversely affected the safety of the ship and the Chesapeake Bay. It further alleges the defendants lied to the Coast Guard in required log books in order to disguise the leak as well as to hide deliberate acts of oil pollution.
Charged in the grand jury Indictment are
- Davor Maric, the Captain of the Freja Jutlandic, from Croatia;
- Ryzard Pawlowski, the ship's Chief Engineer, from Poland;
- Jo Goksoyr and Eric Moller, the ship's shore-side superintendents, from Denmark;
- D/S Progress, the corporate operator of the tanker; and K/S Chemical Transporter, the corporate owner.
Goksoyr and Moller were employed by D/S Progress, based in Copenhagen.
When the Norwegian flag tanker first arrived in Baltimore, crew members secretly handed a note to Coast Guard personnel during a March 22, 2000, inspection that revealed the leak, according to a criminal complaint filed in Court at the time of the captain's arrest in May.
Coast Guard inspectors found water flowing into the engine room from a makeshift patch covering a hole in the hull and the agency required the ship to undergo repairs in a Baltimore shipyard.
According to the Indictment, telexes found on the ship showed that Captain Maric asked his superiors on shore whether to report the problem to the Coast Guard. One day prior to the Coast Guard inspection, defendant Goksoyr telexed back that "the temporare [sic] repair shall not be reported to the coast guard in baltimore."
Goksoyr was the shore-side "Designated Person" under the International Safety & Management Code ("ISM Code") which means that he was responsible for the ship's safety and compliance with the law. This is the first case in which a "Designated Person" has been criminally charged with directing vessel pollution.
The indictment charges that, as part of the conspiracy, the defendants "avoided expenses and other resources associated with maintaining a safe and seaworthy vessel and ... with the proper operation of pollution prevention equipment ...."
The defendants stand charged with presenting false Oil Record Books to the Coast Guard when the ship was inspected in Baltimore in March, and again when the ship returned in April 2000.
The required log books inspected by the Coast Guard allegedly contained false statements about the dumping of oil contaminated bilge waste and waste from cleaning of cargo tanks by using equipment and procedures that bypassed required pollution prevention equipment including the Oily Water Separator and Oil Discharge Monitor. The false logs created the overall false impression that the vessel was being operated properly, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, the Freja Jutlandic engaged in various practices, including the following:
- Dumping oil contaminated waste from cleaning cargo tanks into a "Special Area" designated under international treaty in which overboard discharges are restricted
- Failing to report and falsely reporting the discharge of oil contaminated bilge waste resulting from the hazardous leak in the hull;
- Presenting a false Oil Record Book to the Coast Guard that concealed the overboard dumping of oil contaminated cargo waste made through a bypass pipe so that the waste was not first processed through an Oil Discharge Monitor, a required piece of pollution prevention equipment; and
- Presenting a false Oil Record Book to the Coast Guard that concealed that certain overboard discharges of oil contaminated cargo tank waste were made while using a flexible hose to flush fresh water by the sensor on the Oil Discharge Monitor designed to detect oil and limit oil pollution.
The grand jury's Indictment alleges that four specific acts of pollution occurred with equipment and/or procedures that bypassed required pollution prevention equipment or which were falsely reported in required Oil Record Books inspected by the Coast Guard:
- Dumping approximately 250,000 gallons of oil contaminated cargo tank waste into the North Sea off the coast of Europe, on or about February 26, 2000;
- Dumping approximately 3,162 gallons of oil contaminated cargo tank waste on the voyage from Europe to Baltimore on or about March 8, 2000;
- Dumping approximately 25,000 gallons of fuel oil contaminated with water during a return voyage from Mexico to Baltimore on or about April 18, 2000, which occurred without the use of pollution prevention equipment and on the orders of defendant Erik Moller, the ship's shore-based technical superintendent;
- Dumping approximately 2,000 gallons of oil contaminated cargo tank waste on or about April 8, 2000, after the Freja Jutlandic departed Baltimore.
An indictment represents charges brought by a grand jury and must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt by the United States in a jury trial. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted, each of the individual defendants could face up to 5 years in prison and up to a $250,000 criminal fine (or up to twice the gross gain or loss from the crime) for each count. The corporate defendants can be subject to a criminal fine of up to $500,000 (or up to twice the gross gain or loss from the crime) per count.
The case was investigated by the Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Division with assistance from the Coast Guard, Activities Baltimore, Coast Guard Headquarters Marine Safety and Environmental Protection Division, Coast Guard MLC Atlantic Legal Office and Coast Guard Office of Maritime and International Law. Additional assistance was provided by the Baltimore Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Richard A. Udell, also a Senior Trial Attorney with the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice.
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