Greek Ship Owner Faces Fine for Dumping Oily Water


Feds: Seattle-bound ship’s owner must pay for oily cover-up


A Greek shipping magnate’s firms will pay $1.3 million in fines after one ship’s crew dumped thousands of gallons of oily water into the Pacific Ocean and then tried to hide the mess.

In line with the Watergate axiom, it’s not the crime but the cover-up that will cost the owner of the M/V Gallia Graeca.

U.S. Coast Guard inspectors in Seattle found that the great grain hauler had been dumping soiled water into the sea as it made its way to Puget Sound from China.  They also found that two engineers had lied about the pollution as a favor to the Cyprus-flagged ship’s corporate owners, firms that prosecutors say belong to Greek shipping magnate Evangelos Angelakos.  

The ship’s owners denied any responsibility for the pollution and the failed cover-up attempt. A jury found their denials wanting, though, and federal prosecutors are now poised to ask a U.S. District Court judge to fine the firm’s $3 million.

“The evidence at trial demonstrated these incidents were not accidents,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth Wilkinson and Matthew Diggs said in court papers.

“Rather, they were the result of a corporate culture where managers and officers winked at environmental non-compliance and encouraged the chief engineer to conceal environmental issues from the Coast Guard,” continued the federal prosecutors, who pursued the case alongside Coast Guard Judge Advocate Stephen Bor.

The prosecutors argued that would-be polluters need to be sent a message.

“This conduct is part of a larger global problem that sickens and kills fish and marine wildlife,” the prosecutors said in court papers.

“Most incidents like this one go undetected,” they continued.  “They occur at sea, with only the participants to witness the crime.  For this reason, when the Coast Guard does identify and prove a serious pollution incident and cover-up, the fine must be significant enough to convince the shipping industry that environmental compliance is not only the right thing to do, but a sound business decision.”

Coughenour is expected to decide what punishment is appropriate during a sentencing hearing Friday morning.

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Source: Seattle news


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