Indictments in US for alleged environmental and safety violations

Greece-based Joanna Maritime Ltd and Chief Engineer Warlito Tan were indicted in US Federal Court in New Orleans on Thursday September 30th for alleged violations of environmental and safety laws related to Marshall Islands-registered bulk carrier Joanna (IMO 9460277).

A four-count grand jury indictment has alleged that Empire Bulkers Ltd, Joanna Maritime Ltd and Warlito Tan tampered with required oil pollution prevention equipment and falsified the ship’s Oil Record Book.

The US Coast Guard found that the ship’s Oily Water Separator had been bypassed by inserting a piece of metal into the Oil Content Meter so that it would only detect clean water instead of what was actually being discharged overboard. According to the indictment, Tan and the shipping companies falsified the log and sought to obstruct the USCG inspection.

The defendants were also charged with violating the Ports and Waterways Safety Act by failing to immediately report a hazardous situation that affected the safety of the ship and threatened US ports and waters.

During the inspection on March 11th this year the USCG discovered an active fuel oil leak in the ship’s purifier room that resulted from disabling the fuel oil heater pressure relief valves, an essential safety feature designed to prevent catastrophic fires and explosions.

The criminal prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney G. Dall Kammer for the Eastern District of Louisiana and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard A Udell of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section, with assistance provided by District 8 of the USCG and the USCG Criminal Investigations Division.

As of October 2nd the vessel was underway from Veracruz in Mexico to the Mississippi.

2010-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 23,494 gt Joanna is owned by Joanna Maritime Ltd care of manager Empire Bulkers Ltd of Athens, Greece. It is entered with Britannia on behalf of Joanna Maritime Ltd.