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Shipping company fined $1.65 million over illegal discharge into ocean

A Singapore-based shipping company was fined $1.65 million in federal court in Oakland this week for dumping oily bilge water into the ocean during a voyage last year from the Philippines to the Richmond.

In addition to the fine, Unix Line PTE was placed on probation for four years and ordered to implement an environmental compliance plan as part of a sentence on Friday before U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar in Oakland.

The company had previously pleaded guilty to a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

Unix Line admitted that its crew members on the Zao Galaxy, a 16,408 gross-ton tanker, knowingly failed to record the discharge of oily bilge water without the use of required pollution-prevention equipment during the voyage last year, according to U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson of the Northern District of California.

The Zao Galaxy set sail from the Philippines on Jan. 21, 2019, heading to Richmond with a cargo of palm oil. On Feb. 11, 2019, when the ship arrived in Richmond and U.S. Coast Guard examiners discovered that a ship officer directed crewmembers to discharge oily bilge water in a way that bypassed the vessel’s oil water separator, Anderson said.

The discharges were purposely omitted from the Zao Galaxy’s oil record book when it was presented to the U.S. Coast Guard during the vessel’s inspection, officials said.

“The Coast Guard Investigative Service will continue to make criminal investigations that deter maritime organizations from breaking international and U. S. law designed to protect our finite natural marine resources a priority” said Kelly Hoyle, Special Agent in Charge Pacific Region of the Coast Guard Investigative Service.

Last October, Unix Line was indicted by a federal grand jury for obstruction of justice and a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Under a plea agreement, Unix Line pled guilty to one count.

The prosecution was the result of a yearlong investigation by the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Investigations Division of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco.

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