DOJ Announces Conviction in Oil Discharge Case

Matthaios Fafalios, 64, a resident of Greece, was convicted in connection with his actions prior to and during a U.S. Coast Guard boarding of the vessel M/V Trident Navigator in January 2014.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana announced Dec. 17 that a chief engineer from the vessel M/V Trident Navigator has been convicted by a federal jury in New Orleans of knowingly falsifying the ship's oil record book in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, as well as obstruction of justice and witness tampering. Matthaios Fafalios, 64, a resident of Greece, was convicted in connection with his actions prior to and during a U.S. Coast Guard boarding of the vessel in January 2014.

Fafalios in December 2013 "had ordered his engineering crew to construct a hose known in the industry as a 'magic hose' to discharge the oily wastewater that was in the vessel's bilge holding tank. Two crewmembers onboard the vessel reported this illegal discharge to the Coast Guard. When coast guard inspectors boarded the vessel, Fafalios attempted to hide critical documents from the inspectors that indicated the illegal discharge occurred. Additionally, Fafalios ordered engineers under his command to lie to the Coast Guard about the illegal oily wastewater discharge," according to the DOJ news release.

It says vessels such as this one must maintain a record known as an oil record book in which transfer and disposal of all oil-contaminated waste must be fully and accurately recorded by the person in charge of the operations. Oil-contaminated bilge waste can be discharged overboard if it is processed through on-board pollution prevention equipment, the oily water separator.

The vessel's operator, Marine Managers LTD., previously pleaded guilty to knowingly falsifying the oil record book and obstruction of justice and paid a total criminal penalty of $900,000. The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service.

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