A federal grand jury in Oakland charged two shipping companies and a First Assistant Engineer with failing to maintain an Oil Record Book for bilge water discharges into the sea about three nautical miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge and with obstruction of justice, the US Department of Justice announced.
The indictment alleges that the 16,408 gross-ton, ocean-going motor tanker ‘Zao Galaxy’ was owned by FGL Moon Marshall Limited, a Marshall Islands company, and operated by Unix Line Pte Ltd., a Singapore company.
On 21 January 2019, the Zao Galaxy set sail from the Philippines and, on 10 February 2019, the ship arrived at a port in Richmond, Calif., bearing a cargo of palm oil, according to officials.
According to the indictment, Dela Cruz, 37, a citizen of the Philippines, was the First Assistant Engineer on the Zao Galaxy and acted as an employee and agent of both FGL Moon and Unix.
He was responsible for making entries into the ship’s Oil Record Book and for the operation of the ship’s equipment used for treatment and discharge of oil-contaminated water.
When the ship reached Richmond, examiners from the US Coast Guard boarded the ship to conduct an inspection and previously-scheduled examination.
As a result of that examination, investigators discovered videos showing that approximately four illegal overboard discharges of oily waste had occurred from the Zao Galaxy’s engine room between the last week of January 2019 and February 11, 2019.
The ship’s location data suggested that one of the illegal dumping events occurred when the Zao Galaxy was approximately three nautical miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The complaint affidavit additionally alleges that Dela Cruz had ordered another crew member to perform the illegal overboard discharge at night to facilitate the emptying, cleaning, and repainting of the Zao Galaxy’s Primary Bilge Tank prior to the Coast Guard’s examination.
Dela Cruz is also alleged to have ordered another crew member to use a flange/hose system to facilitate the dumping of the oily waste while avoiding the ship’s normal oily waste management system.
The Zao Galaxy’s Oil Record Book contained no entries documenting these illegal discharges of oily waste.
The indictment also alleges that the First Assistant Engineer attempted to persuade a lower-level crew member to withhold relevant information regarding the dumping from the Coast Guard.
The defendants are scheduled to appear on October 29 for an initial federal court appearance and arraignment.