02/26/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/26/2020 19:57
OAKLAND - Unix Line PTE, Ltd., a Singapore-based shipping company, pleaded guilty in federal court today to a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. The plea was received by the Honorable Jon S. Tigar, U.S. District Judge.
United States Attorney David L. Anderson, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, and U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service Special Agent in Charge Kelly S. Hoyle made the announcement.
In pleading guilty, Unix Line admitted that its crew members onboard the Zao Galaxy, a 16,408 gross-ton, ocean-going motor tanker, knowingly failed to record in the vessel's oil record book the overboard discharge of oily bilge water without the use of required pollution-prevention equipment, during the vessel's voyage from the Philippines to Richmond, Calif.
According to the plea agreement, Unix Line is the operator of the Zao Galaxy, which set sail from the Philippines on January 21, 2019, heading toward Richmond, carrying a cargo of palm oil. On February 11, 2019, the Zao Galaxy arrived in Richmond, where it underwent a U.S. Coast Guard inspection and examination. Examiners discovered that during the voyage, a Unix Line-affiliated ship officer directed crew members to discharge oily bilge water overboard, using a configuration of drums, flexible pipes, and flanges to bypass the vessel's oil water separator. The discharges were knowingly not recorded in the Zao Galaxy's oil record book.
On October 24, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Unix Line. On February 19, 2020, Unix Line was charged by superseding information with one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, 33 U.S.C. § 1908(a). Under the plea agreement, Unix Line pled guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
Judge Tigar scheduled Unix Line's sentencing hearing for March 20, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. in Oakland. The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships is six years' imprisonment and a fine of twice the gross gain or loss derived from the offense. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Katherine Lloyd-Lovett and Special Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Briggs of the Northern District of California and Senior Trial Attorney Kenneth Nelson of the Environmental Crimes Section, with the assistance of Kay Konopaske and Katie Turner. The prosecution is the result of a year-long investigation by the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Investigations Division of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco.