Greek Tanker Firm Pleads Guilty to MARPOL Violations
On Monday, the operator and master of the product tanker Sea Faith pleaded guilty to two felony MARPOL violations for failing to maintain the vessel's oil record book and garbage record book. The plea comes with a $2.25 million fine for the Athens-based operator, Sea World Management & Trading, and a three-year term of probation. The Faith's captain, Edmon Fajardo, was sentenced to six months in prison, two years of supervised release and a fine of $2,000.
Sea World and Capt. Edmon Fajardo admitted that petroleum cargo residue and oily bilge water were discharged from the Sea Faith without the use of pollution prevention equipment. They also admitted that these discharges were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book.
During a transit of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico in March 2017, Capt. Fajardo ordered crew members to discharge oily waste from the vessel’s cargo tanks, bilges and deck spaces using portable pumps and hoses. The discharges bypassed the use of the vessel’s oil content monitoring equipment, and they were not recorded.
In addition, on the same voyage, Fajardo ordered crewmembers to throw plastics, empty steel drums, oily rags, batteries, and empty paint cans directly overboard. These discharges were made at night to avoid detection and were not recorded in the garbage record book.
Upon arrival in Corpus Christi, crewmembers informed the U.S. Coast Guard of the violations and provided photographs and videos as evidence. When questioned by USCG inspectors, Fajardo said repeatedly that he was not aware of any discrepancies between the contents of the vessel's record books and the vessel's actual discharges. Prosecutors also charged that he instructed at least four crewmembers to lie to Coast Guard inspectors.
The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. federal prosecutors have a strong record of enforcing MARPOL requirements. This case was investigated by the Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, the CGIS and the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. It was prosecuted by the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section with assistance from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.