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Singaporean tanker operator pleads guilty to oily bilge dumping

Unix Line admitted that its tanker, Zao Galaxy, illegally discharged oily bilge at sea while on route from the Philippines to California’s Port of Richmond in late January 2019.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release on February 26 that a Singapore-based tanker operator pleaded guilty in a northern California district court to illegally dumping oil bilge into the sea.

According to the department, Unix Line PTE Ltd.’s 16,408 gross-ton tanker, Zao Galaxy, dumped the oily bilge overboard between its departure from the Philippines on January 21, 2019, and arrival at the Port of Richmond in northern California on February 11, 2019.

The ship was carrying a shipment of palm oil at the time.

When U.S. Coast Guard officers boarded the ship at Richmond, they discovered that during the voyage a Unix Line-affiliated ship officer ordered the crew to discharge oily bilge water overboard using a contraption of drums, flexible pipe and flanges to bypass the vessel’s oil water separator. The discharges were not recorded in the Zao Galaxy’s oil record book.

Unix Line’s action violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, the Justice Department said.

The company’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 20 before U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar in Oakland, California.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.