Singaporean shipping company fined US$1.65 million for concealing illegal discharges of oily water

Zao Galaxy (Photo: Unix Line)
Zao Galaxy (Photo: Unix Line)

Unix Line, a Singapore-based shipping company, was sentenced in US federal court in Oakland, California, on Friday, March 20, after previously pleading guilty to a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

Unix Line was sentenced to pay a fine of US$1.65 million, placed on probation for a period of four years, and ordered to implement a comprehensive environmental compliance plan as a special condition of probation.

In pleading guilty, the company admitted that its crewmembers onboard Zao Galaxy, an 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, California.

On October 24, 2019, Unix Line was indicted by a federal grand jury of obstruction of justice and a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Under the plea agreement, the company pled guilty to one count of a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

According to the plea agreement, Unix Line is the operator of Zao Galaxy, which set sail from the Philippines on January 21, 2019, heading toward Richmond, California, carrying a cargo of palm oil. On February 11, 2019, the vessel arrived in Richmond, where it underwent a US Coast Guard inspection and examination.

Examiners discovered that during the voyage, a Unix Line-affiliated ship officer directed crewmembers 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 vessel's oil record book when it was presented to the US Coast Guard during the vessel's inspection.

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