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SAN FRANCISCO — A shipping company was ordered to pay a $1.65 million fine and given four years’ probation after one of its vessels was caught dumping oil bilge water into the Pacific Ocean, a short distance from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Singapore-based Unix Line PTE Ltd. pleaded guilty earlier this year to a violation of the federal Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. The charges stem from a February 2019 incident, when one of Unix’s ships, a 16,408 gross-ton ocean liner called the Zao Galaxy, was caught dumping oily discharge during a voyage from the Philippines to Richmond, Calif.
The case was brought to authorities’ attention by a whistleblower, who photographed the crime and got the attention of an inspector when the boat docked in Richmond. One of the whistleblowers, identified in court records as “Crew Member Two,” told authorities that the ship’s engineer, Gilbert Dela Cruz, “ordered him to pump the oily waste overboard three to four times” in January and February, and “to do so only when it was dark outside,” according to the criminal complaint.
The dumps are believed to have occurred about three nautical miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge, near Point Bonita, and authorities believe they occurred in anticipation of an inspection in Richmond.
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Unix was convicted of dumping oily discharge in the Pacific Ocean in 2003 as well, according to court records.
“The Coast Guard Investigative Service will continue to make criminal investigations that deter maritime organizations from breaking international and U. S. law designed to protect our finite natural marine resources a priority” Kelly Hoyle, Special Agent in Charge Pacific Region of the Coast Guard Investigative Service, said in a news release.
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