A U.S. based court has convicted Greek tanker owner Evridiki Navigation, operator Liquimar Tankers Management Services Inc and chief engineer Nikolaos Vastardis for obstruction of justice in relation to an attempt of hiding deliberate discharge of oil-contaminated bilge waste overboard from the Liberian-flagged tanker (M/T) Evridiki.
Namely, the trio was convicted by a federal jury in Wilmington, Delaware, of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, falsifying ship’s documents, obstructing a U.S. Coast Guard inspection, and making false statements to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors, the US Department of Justice (US DOJ) said.
Each defendant was convicted of all four felony counts. Their respective sentences are yet to be announced.
“This case demonstrates that those who pollute our oceans and deliberately mislead Coast Guard officials will be brought to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
As disclosed by the DoJ, the Liberian-flagged oil tanker owned by Evridiki Navigation and operated by Liqumar Tankers Management Services, arrived in the Big Stone Anchorage, within Delaware Bay, for the purpose of delivering a cargo of crude oil on March 10, 2019.
The following day, the ship underwent a U.S. Coast Guard inspection to determine, among other things, the vessel’s compliance with international environmental pollution prevention requirements.
The jury found that during the inspection, Evridiki, Liquimar, and Vastardis tried to deceive Coast Guard inspectors regarding the use of the ship’s oily water separator (OWS), a required pollution prevention device.
Under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), only bilge waste containing less than 15 parts per million (ppm) oil can be discharged overboard and must be first run through an OWS and oil content meter (OCM) to ensure that no waste containing more than 15 ppm oil is discharged.
During the Coast Guard inspection, Vastardis operated the equipment with unmonitored valves that trapped fresh water inside the OCM’s sample line so that its oil sensor registered zero ppm instead of what was really being discharged overboard. However, historic OCM data recovered during the inspection proved that the OCM was being tricked and bypassed. When the Coast Guard opened the Evridiki’s OWS, they found it was fouled with copious amounts of oil and soot.