Ship engineers accused of hiding discharges of
oil into ocean
Captain X Kyriakou oil tanker
Photo courtesy Sea
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Two oil tanker engineers have been
indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on charges of
falsifying a ship's log to hide illegal discharges of polluting
sludge and waste oil into the ocean.
Artemios Maniatis, 55, and Dmitrios Georgakoudis, 29, both Greek
citizens, were the chief engineer and first engineer of the M/T
Captain X Kyriakou, an oil tanker registered in the Marshall Islands,
owned by a Liberian company and operated by a Greek company.
They are scheduled to have an initial court appearance before
U.S. Magistrate Bernard Zimmerman in San Francisco on Thursday.
The two engineers were indicted Tuesday on one count of violating
the U.S. Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships by falsifying a ship's
log known as an Oil Record Book between Oct. 27 and Nov. 2.
The indictment alleges they failed to disclose in the log that
the tanker routinely discharged sludge and bilge water contaminated
with fuel oil and engine lubrication oil.
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said a U.S. Coast Guard inspection of
the ship last month revealed that a pipe known in the shipping
trade as a "magic pipe" was used to bypass pollution
control equipment and allow the ship's sludge and oily bilge water
to be sent directly overboard.
The U.S. pollution law makes it a crime to violate an international
marine pollution prevention treaty known as MARPOL.
The treaty bars ships from discharging oily water in greater
concentrations than 15 parts per million and requires ship operators
to use pollution prevention equipment and keep accurate Oil Record
Ryan said the investigation began when a tanker crew member called
the Coast Guard National Response Center on Nov. 1 and said he
was routinely ordered to discharge oil overboard.
The maximum penalty for the charge upon conviction is 10 years
in prison, but the actual penalty, if the defendants are convicted,
would be determined after consultation of federal sentencing guidelines.
Ryan said prosecutors are continuing to investigate the tanker's
owner, Free Seas Shipping Ltd., based in Monrovia, Liberia, and
its operator, Athenian Sea Carriers Ltd. of Athens, Greece.
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