Help Prevent Pollution of Our Waters

Although it pales in comparison to the Gulf of Mexico spill, the following USCG News again points out that we all need to be mindful of polluting our waters.

Vaja Sikharulidze, 59, the Chief Engineer of the Motor Tanker Chem Faros, a 21,145 gross-ton ocean-going cargo ship has pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, in violation of Title 33, United States Code, Sections 1901, et. seq.. The ship was operated by Cooperative Success Maritime SA and regularly transported cargo between various ports in Asia and the United States, to include Morehead City, N.C.

Oil-contaminated bilge waste can be discharged overboard if it is processed through on-board pollution prevention equipment known as the Oily Water Separator (OWS), which is used to separate the water from the oil and other wastes, and the effluent contains 15 parts per million or less of oil.

The investigation revealed that from March 4, through March 29, Sikharulidze, who had overall responsibility for the Engine Department, failed to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book for the disposals of oil residue and discharges overboard and disposals of oily sludges, oily mixtures, slops from bilges and bilge water that accumulated in machinery spaces. Specifically, the Oil Record Book failed to show discharges of oil-contaminated waste made without the use of the ship’s pollution prevention equipment.

Further, from September, 2009, until March 2010, engine department crew members pumped oil-contaminated waste directly overboard by using a pipe that by-passed the OWS. On at least one occasion between March 4, and March 29, Sikharulidze directed subordinate crew members to by-pass the ships’ OWS and pump oil-contaminated waste directly overboard. This resulted in approximately 13,200 gallons of oil-contaminated waste to be discharged into the ocean.

At sentencing, Sikharulidze faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to six years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up $250,000 and up to three years supervised release.

Pollution Regulations

You might think that environmental regulations to protect the waters from pollution were enacted in recent years. In actuality, the “Refuse Act of 1899” was designed to prohibit throwing, discharging or depositing any refuse matter of any kind (including trash, garbage, oil and other liquid pollutants) into the waters of the United States.

Violators are subject to substantial civil penalties and/or criminal sanctions, including fine and imprisonment.

Oil and Hazardous Substances

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of oil or hazardous substances that may be harmful into U.S. navigable water. Boats 26 feet in length and longer must display a placard at least 5 by 8 inches, made of durable material, fixed in a conspicuous place in the machinery spaces or at the bilge pump control station, stating the following:

Regulations issued under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act require all boats with propulsion machinery to have a capacity to retain oily mixtures on board. A fixed or portable means to discharge oily waste to a reception facility is required. A bucket or bailer is suitable as a portable means of discharging oily waste on recreational watercraft. No person may intentionally drain oil or oily waste from any source into the bilge of any boat.

You must immediately notify the U.S. Coast Guard if your boat discharges oil or hazardous substances in the water. Call toll-free 800-424-8802 (In Washington, D.C. 202-267-2675). Report the following information:

  • location
  • source
  • size
  • color
  • substances
  • time observed

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, The Boating Environment

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