According to court documents, the captain and other crew members repeatedly discharged the oil-contaminated bilge water into the ocean, using unapproved submersible pumps and hoses. On at least one occasion, such a discharge left a sizable oily-sheen along the surface of the water that trailed alongside the vessel Native Sun. In particular, according to the charges, the conspirators directed the installation of the aforementioned illegal pumps and hoses, directed co-conspirators to empty the bilges regularly, and instructed the co-conspirators to conceal any evidence of the discharges by dispersing the sheen with detergents.
“The Justice Department aggressively prosecutes those who pollute the waters of the United States, including the oceans,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeff Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). “Law-abiding vessel operators know the importance of compliance with our nation’s environmental laws.”
The captain faces a maximum of six years in prison for the APPS count and five years in prison for the conspiracy count. He also faces a criminal fine of up to $250,000 for each count. Sentencing is scheduled for June 16, 2017.
The vessel's owner pled “not guilty” to the charges in April 2016 and has maintained his innocence since that time. His trial is currently set to begin March 21, 2017.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Captain Linda A. Sturgis, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, stated:
“The results announced today are a prime example of the importance of the Coast Guard’s marine environmental protection mission and the effectiveness of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships”.
Source: US Department of Justice