Greek ship operators fined US$4 million for dumping oil off Texas
TWO Greek shipping companies, Avin International Ltd and Nicos IV Special Maritime Enterprises, have pleaded guilty in a federal court in Texas to charges of dumping oil into the waters of two Texas ports by the oil tanker Nicos IV
TWO Greek shipping companies, Avin International Ltd and Nicos IV Special Maritime Enterprises, have pleaded guilty in a federal court in Texas to charges of dumping oil into the waters of two Texas ports by the oil tanker Nicos IV. The companies are required to pay a fine of US$4 million.
According to the charges, the oil was released in ballast discharges by the companies' tanker Nicos IV at the ports of Houston and Arthur in early July 2017, violating the Clean Water Act.
Avin International was the operator and Nicos IV Special Maritime Enterprises was the owner of the Greek-flagged tanker.
'The international ports of Houston and Port Arthur are no one's dumping ground,' said assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark, reported Beaumont's East Texas Matters.
'Vessel operators coming to the United States must not foul American waterways. Those who knowingly discharge their waste and lie to the Coast Guard to dodge their legal responsibilities under federal law are on notice that our investigators and prosecutors stand ready to hold them accountable,' he said,
The captain of the Nicos IV, Rafail-Thomas Tsoumakos, and the vessel's chief officer Alexios Thomopoulos also pleaded guilty to making false statements to the US Coast Guard during the investigation into the discharges. The maximum sentence for this crime is five years in prison.
Both Tsoumakos and Thomopoulos lied to the Coast Guard, stating, among other things, that they had not been aware of the oil in the ballast system until after the discharge in port Arthur and that they believed that the oil in the ballast tanks had entered them when the vessel took on ballast water in port Arthur.
The companies will have a four-year probation, which requires an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor.