Portline Bulk Pleads Guilty to U.S. MARPOL Charges
On Friday, Portugal-based shipping company Portline Bulk International pleaded guilty to one MARPOL charge and one charge of obstruction in connection with a U.S. Coast Guard investigation into discharges from the bulker Achilleus. Portline has agreed to pay a fine of $1.5 million and undergo four years of probation, and sentencing is pending.
Last August, Coast Guard port state control inspectors boarded the Achilleus at the port of Charleston, South Carolina. The vessel's top engineering officers presented the officials with a falsified oil record book, and they did not disclose that over the course of the past year they had used a "magic pipe" to pump oily bilge water directly over the side.
Coast Guard officials detained the bulker in Charleston for nine days and initiated an investigation, which ultimately resulted in several guilty pleas. Two of the Achilleus' crew, chief engineer Anatoli Zotsenko and second engineer Valerii Pastushenko, have pleaded guilty to MARPOL charges and have been sentenced to a fine of $12,500 and three years of probation. The two officers are also banned from American ports and anchorages.
“The world’s oceans are not a dumping ground for criminals who seek to evade our nation’s environmental laws,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the Department’s commitment to protecting coastal communities through rigorous enforcement of the rule of law."
Coast Guard Sector Charleston, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, the DoJ's Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina collaborated on the case, with technical assistance from the USCG Marine Safety Lab.
The 2001-built Achilleus is a 50,000 dwt geared bulker flagged in Malta. As of Friday, she was berthed at Charleston once more, having recently arrived on a voyage from Egypt.