Singaporean shipping company fined $1.65m for concealing illegal discharges of oily water

Mar 26 2020

Unix Line PTE Ltd., a Singapore-based shipping company, was sentenced Mar. 20 in federal court before U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar in Oakland, California, after previously pleading guilty to a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

Unix Line PTE Ltd. was sentenced to pay a fine of $1,650,000.00, placed on probation for a period of four years, and ordered to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan as a special condition of probation.


In pleading guilty, Unix Line admitted that its crew members onboard the Zao Galaxy, a 16,408 gross-ton, ocean-going motor tanker, knowingly failed to record in the vessel’s oil record book the overboard discharge of oily bilge water without the use of required pollution-prevention equipment, during the vessel’s voyage from the Philippines to Richmond, California.


“Deliberately concealing illegal discharges of oil waste into our oceans is a federal crime we will not tolerate,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “This sentencing shows that polluting our oceans and misleading the Coast Guard will cost you.”


“The defendant’s crew members intentionally discharged oily bilge waste into the ocean on their voyage to California,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson of the Northern District of California.  “Our district includes hundreds of miles of the beautiful Pacific coast, stretching from Monterey to Del Norte County.  We will do our part to protect those natural resources and hold companies responsible when they fail to follow federal and international laws designed to protect our oceans from pollution.”


“The Coast Guard Investigative Service will continue to make criminal investigations that deter maritime organizations from breaking international and U.S. law designed to protect our finite natural marine resources a priority,” said Kelly Hoyle, Special Agent in Charge Pacific Region of the Coast Guard Investigative Service.


On Oct. 24, 2019, Unix Line was indicted by a federal Grand Jury of obstruction of justice and a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.  Under the plea agreement, Unix Line pled guilty to one count of a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. 


According to the plea agreement, Unix Line is the operator of the Zao Galaxy, which set sail from the Philippines on Jan. 21, 2019, heading toward Richmond, California, carrying a cargo of palm oil.  On Feb. 11, 2019, the Zao Galaxy arrived in Richmond, where it underwent a U.S. Coast Guard inspection and examination.  Examiners discovered that during the voyage, a Unix Line-affiliated ship officer directed crew members to discharge oily bilge water overboard, using a configuration of drums, flexible pipes, and flanges to bypass the vessel’s oil water separator.  The discharges were knowingly not recorded in the Zao Galaxy’s oil record book when it was presented to the U.S. Coast Guard during the vessel’s inspection. 


Senior Trial Attorney Kenneth Nelson of the Environmental Crimes Section, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Lloyd-Lovett, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Briggs, Kay Konopaske and Katie Turner, of the Northern District of California, are prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of a year-long investigation by the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Investigations Division of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco.


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