Tanker owner, operator, chief engineer convicted in US for concealing deliberate pollution

Evridiki (Photo: Liquimar)

Nikolaos Vastardis, Evridiki Navigation, and Liquimar Tankers Management Services have been convicted by a federal jury in Wilmington, Delaware, of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, falsifying ship’s documents, obstructing a US Coast Guard inspection, and making false statements to US Coast Guard inspectors.

The crimes were committed in order to conceal Vastardis’ deliberate bypassing of required pollution prevention equipment in order to illegally discharge oil-contaminated bilge waste overboard from the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Evridiki.

The tanker was owned by Evridiki Navigation and operated by Liquimar Tankers Management Services, both of which are based in Athens. Vastardis was the chief engineer of the vessel.

On March 10, 2019, Evridiki arrived in the Big Stone Anchorage, within Delaware Bay, for the purpose of delivering a cargo of crude oil. The following day, the ship underwent a US Coast Guard inspection to determine, among other things, the vessel’s compliance with international environmental pollution prevention requirements.

The jury found that during the inspection, Evridiki, Liquimar, and Vastardis tried to deceive coast guard inspectors regarding the use of the ship’s oily water separator (OWS), a required pollution prevention device.

Under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), an international treaty to which the US is a party, only bilge waste containing less than 15 parts per million (ppm) oil can be discharged overboard and must be first run through an OWS and oil content meter (OCM) to ensure that no waste containing more than 15 ppm oil is discharged.

During the coast guard inspection, Vastardis operated the equipment with unmonitored valves that trapped fresh water inside the OCM’s sample line so that its oil sensor registered zero ppm instead of what was really being discharged overboard. However, historic OCM data recovered during the inspection proved that the OCM was being tricked and bypassed.

When coast guard inspectors opened Evridiki‘s OWS, they found it was fouled with copious amounts of oil and soot.

Each defendant was convicted of all four felony counts including knowingly failing to maintain an accurate oil record book, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships; obstruction of justice; obstruction of the coast guard’s inspection; and making a materially false statement to the coast guard concerning how the OWS was operated at sea.

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