JUNE 12, 2015 — Following an indictment in Mobile, AL, last month for related conduct (see earlier story), Det Stavangerske Dampskibsselskab AS (DSD Shipping) and four employees are now under three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Lafayette, LA.
This latest indictment charges DSD Shipping and the employees with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and obstruction of justice in connection with the illegal discharge of contaminated waste-water directly into the sea.
DSD Shipping is a Norwegian-based shipping company that operates the oil tanker M/T Stavanger Blossom, a vessel engaged in the international transportation of crude oil. The employees named in the indictment are four engineering officers employed by DSD Shipping to work aboard the vessel: Daniel Paul Dancu, 51, of Romania; Bo Gao, 49, of China; Xiaobing Chen, 34, of China; and Xin Zhong, 28, of China.
According to the indictment, in 2014, DSD Shipping and its employees discharged oil-contaminated waste water generated aboard the M/T Stavanger Blossom directly into the sea. To hide the illegal discharges, DSD Shipping and its employees maintained a fictitious oil record book that failed to record the disposal, transfer, or overboard discharge of oil from the vessel. The indictment further alleges that prior to an inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard, Chen ordered crewmembers to remove piping connected to the vessel’s overboard discharge valve, install new piping, and repaint the piping to hinder an inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard.
DSD Shipping and the engineering officers were charged with violating the APPS for failing to record overboard discharges in the vessel’s oil record book and with obstruction of justice for presenting false documents and deceiving the Coast Guard during an inspection in the Port of Lake Charles.
If convicted, DSD Shipping could be fined up to $500,000 per count, in addition to other possible penalties. Dancu, Gao, Chen and Zhong face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the obstruction of justice charges.
Both indictments arise from a joint, multi-district investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Mobile, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services and the Criminal Investigation Division for the Environmental Protection Agency.