Greek shipping companies and chief engineer charged with covering up deliberate pollution by bulk carriers

The Greek owner and operator, as well as a senior engineer, were charged Thursday in U.S. federal court in New Orleans for violating environmental and safety laws related to MV Joanna, a registered bulk carrier in the Marshall Islands

The grand jury’s four-person indictment alleges that Empire Bulkers Ltd., Joanna Maritime Limited and Chief Engineer Warlito Tan tampered with the equipment required to prevent oil pollution and forged the ship’s Oil Record Book, an official ship’s log that the Coast Guard regularly inspects will.

The Coast Guard found that the ship’s Oily Water Separator was bypassed by inserting a piece of metal into the Oil Content Meter so that only clean water was detected rather than what was actually washed overboard. According to the indictment, Tan and the shipping companies forged the logbook and tried to obstruct the Coast Guard inspection.

The defendants were also charged with violating the Ports and Waterways Safety Act by failing to immediately report a dangerous situation that compromised the safety of the ship and threatened US ports and waters. During the inspection on March 11, 2021, the Coast Guard discovered an active fuel oil leak in the ship’s cleaning room, which resulted from the deactivation of the overpressure valves on the fuel oil heater, an essential safety feature intended to prevent catastrophic fires and explosions.

Prosecution is led by U.S. Assistant Attorney G. Dall Chamber for the Eastern District of Louisiana and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard A. Udell of the Environmental Crimes Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with the assistance of District 8 of the U.S. Coast Guard carried out and the Coast Guard Criminal Police.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources and US Attorney Duane Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

About Christine Geisler

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