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US$4m fine for oil-contaminated ballast water discharge in Texas

A US District Court has fined owners of the Greek-flagged 44,990-dwt chemical tanker Nicos IV US$4 million for discharging oil-contaminated ballast water into Houston Harbour and failing to record the spill in their books

09 May 2019 - 19:00

A US District Court has fined owners of the Greek-flagged 44,990-dwt chemical tanker Nicos IV US$4 million for discharging oil-contaminated ballast water into Houston Harbour and failing to record the spill in their books.

The master, Rafail-Thomas Tsoumakos, and the first officer, Alexios Thomopoulos were each fined $10,000 in the Eastern District of Texas. Facing the big fines were Avin International LTD and Nicos I V Special Maritime Enterprises.



At some point before 6 July 2017, reported Fort Lauderdale's Maritime Executive, the ballast system of the Nicos IV became contaminated with oil.



That oil was discharged from the vessel into the waters of the Port of Houston on 6 July and 7 July during deballasting operations.



The crew observed oil in several of the ballast tanks after arriving in Port Arthur, which was then reported to the US Coast Guard.



Both Captain Tsoumakos and mate Mr Thomopoulos told to the Coast Guard that the oil in the ballast tanks had come on board when they took on ballast in Port Arthur. Later they admitted to making false statements to the United States Coast Guard.



Said USCG Captain Jacqueline Twomey: 'By demonstrating the consequences of this vessel's illicit actions, this case has ensured this vessel and others comply with domestic and international environmental laws intended to eliminate marine pollution.'


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