Ship’s Chief Engineer Pleads Guilty to Willful Discharge of Oily Waste and Obstruction of Justice in New Orleans | USAO-EDLA

The chief engineer of a foreign-flagged ship today pleaded guilty to two counts of deliberately dumping approximately 10,000 gallons of oil-contaminated bilge water into U.S. waters off New -Orleans last year, then trying to obstruct the Coast Guard’s investigation into the spill. The illegal conduct was first reported to the Coast Guard by a crew member via social media.

Kirill Kompaniets, a Russian national and chief engineer of the ship, a commercial bulk carrier registered in the Marshall Islands, was charged with unlawful discharge in violation of the Prevention of Pollution from Ships Act. According to court filings, repair operations were underway to correct a clean ballast water discharge problem when a valve burst and the engine room was flooded. Late on the night of March 13-14, 2021, after controlling the leak, Kompaniets and a junior engineer deliberately dumped the oil-contaminated water in the holds overboard. The spill in US waters happened while the ship was at an anchorage near the Southwest Passage off the coast of Louisiana. The ship’s required pollution prevention equipment – an oily water separator and an oil content monitor – was not used, and the discharge was not recorded in the Oil Record Book, a log board mandatory.

Kompaniets was also charged with obstruction of justice due to various attempts to cover up the illegal dump. In a joint factual statement filed in court with his guilty plea, Kompaniets admitted to the following acts of obstruction of justice: (1) making false statements to the Coast Guard that concealed the cause and nature of a dangerous situation, and concealed that the ship’s engine room was flooded and that oil-contaminated bilge water had been discharged overboard; (2) destroy the computer alarm printouts for the period of the illegal discharge that were wanted by the Coast Guard; (3) hold meetings with junior crew members and order them to make false statements to the Coast Guard; (4) the fabrication of a false petroleum register which did not reveal the illegal dumping; (5) directing junior engine room employees to remove all evidence from their cell phones in preparation for the Coast Guard inspection; and (6) prepare a retaliatory document accusing the whistleblower of poor performance in an effort to discredit them.

“The intentional pollution of U.S. waters and the deliberate effort to conceal the crime are extremely serious criminal offenses that will not be tolerated,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. of Justice. “Lawsuits like this should send a clear message to those who would break the law and endanger our precious natural resources.”

“The defendant in this case willfully ignored procedures designed to protect the environment from contaminants and then attempted to conceal his actions,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans. “Today’s announcement underscores that our office and our federal partners are committed to holding accountable all parties whose criminality endangers our environment and puts the public and ecosystem at risk.

Criminal prosecutions are being led by Assistant U.S. Attorney G. Dall Kammer for the Eastern District of Louisiana and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard A. Udell of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division , with assistance from U.S. Coast Guard District 8. and the Coast Guard Criminal Investigations Division.

The investigation is continuing.

The case was assigned to United States District Court Chief Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown. Sentencing is scheduled for September 1.

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