Tanker master, operator convicted of dumping oil, garbage in Gulf

The following is a news release from the U.S. Justice Department:

(WASHINGTON) — Sea World Management & Trading Inc. and Edmon Fajardo were convicted Monday for maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharge of oil and garbage from an oil tanker that was operating off the coast of Texas, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood and United States Attorney Ryan K. Patrick for the Southern District of Texas. The defendants were also sentenced Monday by the court.

Sea World Management & Trading Inc. and Fajardo pleaded guilty to two felony violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, 33 U.S.C. § 1908(a), for failing to accurately maintain Sea Faith’s oil record book and garbage record book. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the company will pay a total fine of $2.25 million and serve a three-year term of probation during which all vessels operated by the company and calling on U.S. ports will be required to implement a robust environmental compliance plan. Fajardo was sentenced to six months incarceration to be followed by two years supervised release and a $2,000 fine.

Sea World Management & Trading Inc. is a tank vessel operating company, and Fajardo is the master of the tank vessel Sea Faith. Both admitted that oil cargo residues and machinery space bilge water were illegally dumped from Sea Faith directly into the ocean while the vessel was transiting to Corpus Christi, Texas, without the use of required pollution prevention equipment. They also admitted that these discharges were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book as required. Specifically, on five different occasions between March 10, 2017, and March 18, 2017, Fajardo ordered crewmembers to illegally discharge oily waste from various locations of the vessel’s cargo/deck spaces. These oily waste discharges bypassed the use of the vessel’s required oil discharge monitoring equipment and were done while the vessel was in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. 

Sea World Management & Trading Inc. and Fajardo further admitted that on March 10, 2017, and March 15, 2017, Fajardo ordered crewmembers to throw plastics, empty steel drums, oily rags, batteries, and empty paint cans directly overboard into the ocean. None of these garbage discharges were recorded as required in the vessel’s garbage record book.  

The cases were investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division. The cases were prosecuted by trial attorney Stephen Da Ponte of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice, and Assistant U.S. Attorney-In-Charge Julie K. Hampton of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas.

By Professional Mariner Staff