A federal jury in Mobile, Alabama, has convicted Norwegian-based shipping company Det Stavangerske Dampskibsselskab AS (DSD Shipping) and three employees with obstructing justice, violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), witness tampering and conspiracy, the US Justice Department said.DSD Shipping was convicted of one count of conspiracy, three counts of violating APPS, three counts of obstruction of justice and one count of witness tampering.The court also convicted three senior engineering officers, Bo Gao, Xiaobing Chen and Xin Zhong, employed by DSD Shipping to work aboard the vessel. A fourth employee, Daniel Paul Dancu, pleaded guilty in October.The company could be fined up to USD 500,000 per count, in addition to other possible penalties. Gao, Chen and Zhong face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the obstruction of justice charges.As informed by the Justice Department, the evidence presented during the two-week trial demonstrated that in January 2010, DSD Shipping knew that the oily-water separator aboard its oil tanker M/T Stavanger Blossom was inoperable.“In an internal corporate memo, DSD Shipping noted that the device could not properly filter oil-contaminated waste water and stated that individuals “could get caught for polluting” if the problem was not addressed. Rather than repair or replace the oily-water separator, however, DSD Shipping used various methods to bypass the device and force the discharge of oily-wastes into the ocean. During the last months of the vessel’s operation prior to its arrival in the Port of Mobile, the M/T Stavanger Blossom discharged approximately 20,000 gallons of oil-contaminated waste water,” the Justice Department said.The court also established that DSD Shipping employees intentionally discharged fuel oil sludge directly into the ocean. Specifically, crewmembers removed approximately 264 gallons of sludge, placed in around 100 sludge bags, which were thrown overboard directly into the ocean.What is more, the Justice Department determined that following these developments DSD Shipping, Dancu, Gao, Chen and Zhong, presented to the U.S. Coast Guard false and fictitious entries in the vessel’s oil record book and garbage record book.“We will not tolerate the continued use of the world’s oceans as a dumping ground for contaminated waste,” said Assistant Attorney General Cruden. “These defendants deliberately and egregiously violated the law and fouled the marine environment by dumping waste, then tried to cover it up with false records. We hope this conviction sends a strong message to shippers worldwide that this activity must end, and we will vigorously prosecute those who continue this criminal behavior.” “The defendants in this case falsified entries in their vessel’s log books to hide the true nature of its open water discharges. Today’s guilty verdict by a jury should serve as a warning to would-be violators that the American people will not allow the flagrant violation of U.S. laws,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Andy Castro of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criminal enforcement program in Alabama.
The Security Council today endorsed the transfer of more than $220 million from the escrow account set up under the former United Nations arms inspection regime into accounts for the country’s development and the repayment of its UN arrears. In making the proposal earlier this week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that $200 million would be transferred to the Development Fund for Iraq from an account set up under the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission for Iraq (UNMOVIC), which withdrew from the country on the eve of the United States-led invasion two years ago. A balance of $20,256,697, he said, would be credited against Iraq’s arrears in its contributions to the UN regular budget, peacekeeping operations and tribunal activities.