August 3, 2006
Ship's engineers indicted on pollution charges
A grand jury in Newark, N.J. returned a three-count indictment today charging the Chief Engineer and the Second Engineer of a bulk carrier vessel called the M/V Sun New with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships in connection with the use of two bypass hoses used to discharge sludge and oil contaminated bilge waste overboard into the ocean.
The U.S. Department of Justice says that, according to the indictment, Chang-Sig O was a licensed Chief Engineer of the M/V Sun New and at all times was responsible for managing engine room operations and crew members on board the vessel and assuring compliance with the laws regulating the discharge of oil from the vessel. Mun Sic Wang was a licensed Second Engineer and was responsible for operating the vessel's Oily Water Separator--a required pollution prevention device.
Engine room operations on board large oceangoing vessels such as the Sun New generate large amounts of waste oil. International and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of waste oil without treatment by an Oily Water Separator. The regime also requires that all overboard discharges be recorded in an Oil Record Book, a required log which is regularly inspected by the Coast Guard.
According to the indictment, the defendants used two hoses on a trip from Korea to Camden, N.J. between November 20, 2005, and December 31, 2005, to circumvent required pollution prevention equipment and dump sludge and oily bilge waste into the ocean. This bypass equipment was discovered by the U.S. Coast Guard during an inspection of the vessel in Camden, N.J. on January 3, 2006.
The defendants are charged in the indictment with conspiracy and a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for using these bypass hoses and failing to record these discharges in the Oil Record Book. The indictment further alleges that the defendants obstructed the Coast Guard inspection by making false statements designed to prevent the Coast Guard from finding out about these discharges.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of 5 years in prison on the conspiracy charge, 5 years in prison on the obstruction charge, and 5 years in prison on the violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
An indictment contains only allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.