EPA Actions Against Polluters

A roundup of recent actions the EPA has taken against commercial, industrial, and individual polluters.

Major International Shipping Company Sentenced for Falsifying Oil Record Book

A.P. Moller-Maersk, A/S, of Denmark, pleaded guilty and was sentenced topay a $500,000 fine on Sept. 26 by the U.S. District Court for theNorthern District of California. Moller-Maersk, which operates a fleetof more than 200 vessels worldwide, was also ordered to develop andimplement a fleet-wide environmental compliance program. Theinvestigation began on May 25, 2004, when members of the Coast GuardMarine Safety Office discovered waste oil in the overboard piping of theMotor Vessel Jane Maersk during a routine inspection.

Furtherinvestigation by the Coast Guard and EPA's Criminal InvestigationDivision also uncovered evidence of false entries in the ship's OilRecord Book. The false entries in the book concerned the operation ofthe ship's incinerator which, in part, is used to burn waste oil sludge.In a related court action, Johnnie Nielsen of Copenhagen, Denmark, whois the ship's second engineer was sentenced to four months' communityconfinement for his role in concealing and destroying key documents inanticipation of the Coast Guard inspection of the Jane Maersk. Nielsenfurther admitted that he had observed engineers on other Moller-Maerskvessels hiding the same key documents prior to pending inspections.

Failing to properly maintain an Oil Record Book is a violation of theMARPOL Treaty, which is designed to prevent pollution from vessels thatcan, among other things, represent a threat to fish and other aquaticlife. The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard InvestigativeService and the San Francisco Office of EPA's Criminal InvestigationDivision with assistance from the Coast Guard Pacific Judge AdvocateGeneral's Office. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office inSan Francisco.

Washington State Man Charged with Sinking Fishing Boat Off California Coast

Ahmet Artuner of Ferndale, Wash., was charged on Sept. 28 in U.S.District Court for the Central District of California with a number offederal offenses including deliberately sinking a vessel, making a falsestatement to the Coast Guard and releasing a harmful quantity of oilinto the Pacific Ocean. The defendant owned the fishing vessel"Junior."

The indictment alleges that Artuner willfully caused thedestruction of the Junior on March 29, 2003, approximately three milessouthwest of the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, Calif. As a resultof the sinking of the boat, oil and pollution (trash and debris) weredischarged into the ocean, allegedly violating the Clean Water Act.Artuner is further alleged to have falsely told the Coast Guard thatsomeone was aboard the Junior when it sank. This caused the Coast Guardto launch a search and rescue mission, which the indictment alleges wasunnecessary because no one was on the boat.

Releasing pollution intothe ocean can harm fish and other aquatic life, and calling in falsereports can endanger emergency response personnel. The case wasinvestigated by the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service andthe Los Angeles Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. It isbeing prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

Illinois Man Charged with Million Gallon Dairy Waste Discharge

David Inskeep, former manager of the Inwood Dairy in Elmwood, Ill., wascharged on Sept. 21 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District ofIllinois for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act by pumping dairywastes into the West Fork of Kickapoo Creek. The Inwood Dairy hadapproximately 1,250 cows. To control pollution from the cows, animalwastes were flushed from the barns into a collection point and thenpumped into a storage lagoon until they could be legally disposed of.On Feb. 14, 2001, an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA)official found the lagoon to be near capacity and ordered the defendantto stop pumping waste into it. On the next day, the lagoon wascompletely full and the pump was still operating. At that time, Inskeepallegedly refused to hire waste haulers to remove the waste andthreatened to pump waste into the West Fork. On Feb. 16, an IllinoisCircuit Court judge ordered the dairy to immediately stop dischargingwastes into the lagoon. However, on that day and on the next, Inskeepallegedly pumped a combined total of one million gallons of waste fromthe lagoon into the West Fork through a flexible hose.

Dumping animalwaste into surface waters can make them unfit for recreational anddrinking water uses, and it can also harm fish and wildlife. The casewas investigated by the Chicago Office of EPA's Criminal InvestigationDivision, the IEPA and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Itis being prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S.Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. attorney'soffice in Chicago.

California Man Arrested and Charged with Oil Release from Scuttled Boat, False Statements, Obstructing an Investigation and Obstructing a Waterway

David K. Bachtel of San Pedro, Calif., was arrested on Sept. 14 oncharges that he allegedly released oil into waters of the Port of LosAngeles, obstructed a Coast Guard investigation, made false statementsto the Coast Guard and obstructed a waterway, when he allegedly scuttledhis 37-foot Chris Craft pleasure boat in the middle of the ConsolidatedSlip Channel of the Port of Los Angeles on March 5, 2005. Instead ofcompletely sinking, the partially-submerged boat ran aground and it wasdiscovered to be leaking oil when it was found by the Coast Guard thenext day. Coast Guard divers concluded that the boat had beenintentionally submerged because holes were made in the hull by someonestriking it from the inside. All registration numbers had been removedfrom the boat. When questioned about the boat, the defendant allegedlystated he knew nothing about how the boat became submerged.

On March16, Bachtel filed a release of liability form with the CaliforniaDivision of Motor Vehicles, claiming that the boat had been sold onMarch 1st to a man named Jose Lopez for $100. Releasing oil intowaterways can harm fish and aquatic life, and obstructing waterways canbe a hazard to navigation. The case was investigated by the CoastGuard's Criminal Investigative Service, the Los Angeles Office of EPA'sCriminal Investigation Division and the Los Angeles Port Police. It isbeing prosecuted by the U.S. attorney for the Central District ofCalifornia.

Source: EPA