US fines Greek shipping companies for air pollution violations US Attorney Gretchen Shappert for the District of the Virgin Islands announced that two Greek Shipping companies have been convicted and sentenced for various pollution, record-keeping, and obstruction of justice crimes. The defendants’ conduct included using fuel that surpassed the maximum allowable sulfur concentration in the US Caribbean Emission Control Area (US Caribbean ECA) and efforts to deceive US Coast Guard inspectors about the source of the fuel being used on a tanker. The tanker was engaged in transporting petroleum products throughout the Caribbean. The commercial manager of the vessel would authorize the Master of the vessel to transfer petroleum cargo from the cargo tanks into the vessel’s fuel tanks, known as bunker tanks. The owner and operator of the vessel were further responsible for making sure that the vessel used fuel that complied with the US Caribbean ECA standards. While ships are operating within the US Caribbean ECA, they must not use fuel that exceeds 0.10% sulfur by weight in order to help protect air quality. Between January 3, 2017, and July 10, 2018, the tanker entered into, and operated within, the US Caribbean ECA using fuel that contained excessive sulfur on twenty-six separate occasions. The fuel was petroleum cargo that had been transferred to the fuel tanks as authorized by the vessel’s commercial manager. Once notification was received from the Master, the Chief Officer coordinated with the Chief Engineer to make the transfers from the cargo tanks to the bunker tanks. The Chief Officer then falsified the Oil Record Book, Part II, by failing to record that cargo had been transferred to the bunker tanks. The Chief Engineer also falsified the Oil Record Book, Part I, by falsely recording that the fuel in the bunker tank originated from a shore-side company in St. Martin, F.W.I. Additionally, the Chief Engineer created fictitious Bunker Delivery Notes that claimed the fuel in the bunkers came from the same shore-side company in St. Martin, F.W.I. Between March 2, 2016, and February 6, 2018, nineteen separate fictitious Bunker Delivery Notes were created on and kept aboard the vessel. USCG inspectors boarded the tanker on July 10, 2018, to carry out an inspection. During the inspection, the US Coast Guard discovered that the vessel was using fuel with an excessive sulfur content. The Chief Officer instructed some of the lower-ranking crewmembers to lie to the US Coast Guard inspectors about where the fuel came from and to say the ship took on fuel in St. Martin, F.W.I., when in fact it did not. The results announced today send a strong message to anyone who seeks to take shortcuts and intentionally pollute our environment, and I couldn’t be prouder of the Coast Guard’s Resident Inspection Office in St. Croix and Sector San Juan marine inspectors who first identified the issue as well as our Coast Guard Investigative Service agents who worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency in San Juan to investigate this case informed said Rear Adm. Peter Brown, Commander Coast Guard District Seven. The shipping companies will each pay a fine of $1,500,000.00, be placed on four years of probation, and implement an Environmental Compliance Plan. The Master, Chief Engineer, and Chief Officer were sentenced to three years of probation and ordered not to return to the US on a ship during that time. The Chief Officer was also fined $3,000.00.


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