Engineers Allegedly Ordered Crew Members to Use “Magic Pipe” to Bypass Pollution Control Equipment
SAN FRANCISCO – LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced that Artemios Maniatis, 55, and Dimitrios Georgakoudis, 29, both Greek nationals, were indicted yesterday on one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, stemming from their role in ordering the routine discharge of sludge and waste oil from the oil tanker, M/T Captain X Kyriakou. Large marine vessels like the M/T Captain X Kyriakou generate large quantities of sludge when the crude oil used to fuel the ship is purified by the ship’s oil purifiers. Large quantities of oil-contaminated bilge waste is created when water mixes in the bottom of the ship with oil leaked and dripped from the ship’s engine operations.
The government’s investigation began on November 1, when the Coast Guard National Response Center received a call from a crew member aboard the M/T Captain X Kyriakou informing them that he was routinely ordered to discharge oil overboard. MARPOL, a treaty ratified and implemented by the United States, and U.S. law limit the oil content of discharges from ships to not more than 15 parts per million. During their initial inspection of the M/T Captain X Kyriakou, members of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office uncovered, among other things, a so-called “magic pipe” that was used to bypass pollution control equipment and allow the ship’s sludge and oily bilge water to be sent directly overboard. “Magic pipe” is a term commonly used in the shipping industry to describe a pipe used to unlawfully discharge oil overboard.
The Coast Guard also found evidence of false entries made in the Oil Record Book (ORB), a document required by MARPOL. MARPOL requires that all transfers of oil, disposal of sludge and bilge water, and overboard discharges of bilge water, including any emergency, accidental, or other exceptional discharges of oil, be fully and accurately recorded in the ORB. The ORB aboard the M/T Captain X Kyriakou did not disclose the routine, overboard discharge of oil greater than 15 parts per million.
The government is continuing to investigate Free Seas Shipping Ltd., the company that owns the M/T Captain X Kyriakou, as well as Athenian Sea Carriers Ltd., the company that operates the vessel.
The maximum statutory penalty for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, Title 33 U.S.C. § 1908(a), is 10 years and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
An indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Maniatis and Mr. Georgakoudis must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Stacey Geis is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Legal Technician Ana Guerra. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with assistance from the Coast Guard Pacific JAG Office.
Case #: CR 06-0796 JSW
A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.
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All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at [email protected]