Shipping company engineers get probation in illegal dumping case

APRA HARBOR: The Naval Base Guam side of Apra Harbor is shown on April 26, 2020. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

A shipping company based in Singapore and two of its employees were sentenced in the District Court of Guam on Friday for illegally discharging oil into Apra Harbor, and for maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharges of oily bilge water from the vessel Kota Harum.

Pacific International Lines Limited chief engineer Maung Maung Soe was sentenced to two years of probation.

Second engineer Peng Luo Hai was sentenced to one year of probation.

Both admitted that oily bilge water was illegally dumped into the ocean and into Apra Harbor without being properly processed through required pollution prevention equipment.

The company had pleaded guilty to five felony violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to accurately maintain the Kota Harum’s oil record book, and one felony violation of the Clean Water Act for knowingly discharging oil into waters of the United States in a quantity that may be harmful.

The company also was ordered to pay a penalty of $3 million and serve a four-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.

“This case was particularly egregious as it not only involved oily waste discharges out at sea, but also in the Port of Guam itself,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the U.S. Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“We will not allow our waters to be dumping grounds for vessel owners and their crews. The substantial penalties imposed by the court are a strong measure of accountability for these unconscionable acts,” said U.S. Attorney Shawn Anderson of the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

“This case is a strong example of how the U.S. Coast Guard environmental protection missions safeguard our shared natural resources,” said Cmdr. Josh Empen, deputy sector commander, Coast Guard Sector Guam.

On Oct. 4, 2019, Hai, who was employed by PIL, used the Kota Harum’s emergency fire/ballast pump to discharge oily bilge water directly overboard, leaving an oil sheen on the water of Apra Harbor.

Additionally, Soe, who was also employed by PIL, admitted that excessive leaks in the vessel caused oily bilge water to accumulate in the vessel’s engine room bilge at a rate that exceeded the oil water separator’s processing capacity.

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