Two Shipping Firms, Seafarer Charged for Oily Waste Dumping

GavelIllustration; Image Courtesy: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license

The owners and operators, as well as the First Assistant Engineer of the 16,408 gross-ton tanker Zao Galaxy have been charged with offenses related to oily waste dumping.

A federal grand jury in Oakland indicted the two shipping companies, FGL Moon Marshall Limited and Unix Line Pte Ltd, as well as Gilbert Dela Cruz, charging the defendants with failing to maintain an Oil Record Book for bilge water discharges into the sea and with obstruction of justice.

According to the officials, on January 21, 2019, the Zao Galaxy set sail from the Philippines and, on February 10, 2019, the ship arrived at a port in Richmond, California, bearing a cargo of palm oil.

The indictment noted that Dela Cruz, 37, a citizen of the Philippines, was responsible for making entries into the ship’s Oil Record Book and for the operation of the ship’s equipment used for treatment and discharge of oil-contaminated water.

When the ship reached Richmond, examiners from the Coast Guard boarded the ship to conduct an inspection and previously-scheduled examination. As a result of that examination, investigators discovered videos showing that four illegal overboard discharges of oily waste had occurred from the Zao Galaxy’s engine room between the last week of January 2019 and February 11, 2019. According to the affidavit, the ship’s location data suggested that one of the illegal dumping events occurred when the Zao Galaxy was some three nautical miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Additionally, Dela Cruz had allegedly ordered another crew member to perform the illegal overboard discharge at night to facilitate the emptying, cleaning, and repainting of the Zao Galaxy’s Primary Bilge Tank prior to the Coast Guard’s examination. Dela Cruz is also alleged to have ordered another crew member to use a flange/hose system to facilitate the dumping of the oily waste while avoiding the ship’s normal oily waste management system.

The Zao Galaxy’s Oil Record Book contained no entries documenting these illegal discharges of oily waste. The indictment also alleges that Dela Cruz attempted to persuade a lower-level crewmember to withhold relevant information regarding the dumping from the Coast Guard.

The defendants are scheduled to appear on October 29, 2019, for an initial federal court appearance and arraignment.

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