Fine, probation in Alaska pollution case

MARCH 22, 2017 — A federal court in Alaska has sentenced East West Seafoods LLC, a State of Washington company that owns the 472 ft seafood processing vessel F/V Pacific Producer, to pay a total of $50,000 in fines for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, the Clean Water Act, and the Refuse Act by intentionally discharging oily bilge water and raw sewage into the ocean off the coast of Alaska, and then presenting false records to the U.S. Coast Guard.

East West Seafoods LLC was also placed on probation for five years. During the term of probation, East West Seafoods LLC will be subject to a heightened level of scrutiny, including warrantless searches of its vessels and places of business based upon a reasonable suspicion that it is violating the law.

Other terms of probation require East West Seafoods LLC to instruct crewmembers on the proper operation of pollution prevention equipment, including the oil water separator, and the completion of the Oil Record Book, and to review and certify the accuracy of the Oil Record Book every six months for any vessel owned, operated, managed, or controlled by East West Seafoods LLC.

The 75% owner of East West Seafoods LLC and operator of the F/V Pacific Producer, Kodiak resident Christos Tsabouris, 78, was sentenced to pay a $10,000 fine and serve a five-year term of probation for his role in these offenses.

During the term of probation, Tsabouris is required to pay for and complete at least two courses related to marine pollution, marine environmental protection, proper disposal of sewage, bilge water and waste oil, recordkeeping, and vessel engineering systems.

Tsabouris is also required to instruct crewmembers on the proper operation of the pollution prevention equipment, including the oil water separator, and the completion of the Oil Record Book, and to review and certify the accuracy of the Oil Record Book every six months for any vessel owned, operated, managed, or controlled by defendant Tsabouris.

Tsabouris and East West Seafoods LLC also paid pre-existing outstanding fines totaling over $25,000 owed to the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

According to the Department of Justice, Christos Tsabouris has had charge of the F/V Pacific Producer since at least November 2012. Tsabouris supervised the work of the engineering and deck crews and had overall responsibility for the vessel's operations. As the person in charge of the operations and having charge of the ship, Tsabouris was responsible for ensuring the proper disposal of sewage, bilge water, and waste oil and maintaining an accurate Oil Record Book.

On March 15, 2013, the F/V Pacific Producer was travelling from Kodiak and grounded near Ouzinkie Narrows. While the F/V Pacific Producer was within three miles of shore, the defendants unlawfully discharged approximately 1,000 gallons of raw sewage into Chiniak Bay between Long Island and Spruce Island.

On March 29, 2013, while the F/V Pacific Producer was departing from the ferry dock in Ouzinkie, the defendants knowingly discharged a harmful quantity of oil into the water while the F/V Pacific Producer was within three miles of shore and caused a sheen upon the surface of the water. The defendants regularly used an illegal pump system to knowingly discharge oily bilge water directly overboard. The illegal pump system consisted of a 55 gallon barrel with portable pumps and hoses. The illegal pump system allowed the defendants to discharge oily bilge water from the bilge directly overboard without processing it through the required pollution prevention equipment (Oil Water Separator and oil content meter). While there was an Oil Water Separator on board the F/V Pacific Producer, it was not connected to any of the piping and was inoperative.

The defendants also knowingly failed to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book as required by the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS). The defendants failed to record the discharges of oil into the sea by way of the illegal pump system, the transfers and storage of waste oil from the 55 gallon barrel to the engine room sludge tank, and the inoperability of the Oil Water Separator. The defendants knowingly presented the false and fictitious Oil Record Book to the United States Coast Guard and/or had it available for inspection by the United States Coast Guard, in violation of APPS, when the F/V Pacific Producer was in Kodiak on Jan. 27, 2014. The defendants knew that the use of the pump system and failure to record the discharges was illegal.

When the Coast Guard boarded the F/V Pacific Producer in Kodiak on Jan. 27, 2014, there was raw sewage flowing from piping onto the open weather deck. There was a vent pipe that discharged raw sewage onto the weather deck and onto the side of the vessel into the water. The defendants unlawfully discharged raw sewage from the F/V Pacific Producer into St. Paul Harbor while the vessel was within three miles of shore without a permit.

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