Former captain found guilty of dumping from Mercator Lines bulker

Written by Nick Blenkey

gavel2MAY 21, 2012: The Justice Department reports that the former captain of a Panama-flagged cargo ship that discharged hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean was last week convicted by a jury in Mobile, Ala., for obstructing a U.S. Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in the port of Mobile on Sept. 21, 2011.

Prastana Taohim, 38, the captain of the M/V Gaurav Prem, was found guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice, announced Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Kenyen R. Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.

Accordint to the Equasis data base, Gaurav Prem is a 73,901 dwt bulk carrier owned by Singapore’s Mercator Lines.

At trial, witnesses testified that Captain Taohim ordered the ship’s chief officer to throw hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean and not record the discharge in the ship’s garbage record book as required. The garbage record book is a required log regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard. Taohim then knowingly made the garbage record book available during a Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in the Port of Mobile, Ala., on Sept. 21, 2011. The plastic pipes had previously contained insecticide and were used to fumigate a grain shipment. The discharge of plastic into the sea is prohibited under MARPOL.

Taohim was found guilty in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Alabama for obstructing the Coast Guard’s inspection of the ship. The jury also found the defendant guilty of one count of obstruction of justice related to covering up the pollution by creating a false and fictitious garbage log.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 15, 2012.

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