January 18, 2005

Two fined in pollution case

Two chief engineers of a freighter were last week sentenced to two years of probation and a fine of $3,000 for their roles in concealing the overboard ocean dumping of waste oil from the M/V Kent Navigator through false log books and statements designed to deceive the U.S. Coast Guard. The defendants, Chief Engineers Alfredo D. Lozada and Felipe B. Arcolas, worked aboard the Kent Navigator, which is owned and operated by Petraia Maritime Ltd.

Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Paula D. Silsby, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine, said that the government's investigation began when the U.S. Coast Guard received an anonymous tip that a vessel bound for Portland, Maine was illegally discharging its waste oil and its bilges while at sea.

The Coast Guard inspected the Kent Navigator when it entered the port and found oily residue in piping that led to overboard discharge valves and inoperable oil pollution control equipment. The Coast Guard's investigation revealed that while the vessel was at sea, Lozada and Arcolas directed the ship's crew to discharge waste oil tanks and bilge tanks directly overboard, and also discharged the bilges in a way that circumvented the ship's Oil Water Separator. These discharges were made in the middle of the night while at sea, and resulted in discharge of significant quantities of oil.

To conceal this activity Arcolas and Lozada falsified records in the ship's Oil Record Book making it appear as if the discharges were made using the required pollution control equipment when in fact they were not. They also made false statements to the Coast Guard while in port that the ship's pollution control equipment functioned properly.

U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby ordered that Lozada and Arcolas spend the first month of their probation confined to the temporary residence in Portland where they have been living since they were removed from their ship last summer by the Coast Guard and charged with making false statements. The two will be allowed to return to their homes in the Philippines to serve out their probation terms, subject to U.S. court supervision.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service with assistance from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, the Coast Guard First District Legal Office, and the Coast Guard Head Quarters Office of Investigation and Analysis. The case was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Main. The investigation is continuing

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