According to MANA, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour said he was troubled by the actions of Gallia Graeca Ltd. and Angelakos (Hellas) SA. The vessel, the Gallia Graeca, arrived at the Pier 86 grain terminal on Seattle’s waterfront from China to pick up a $20 million shipment of soybeans.
When Petty Officer Daniel Hamilton came aboard to conduct a general inspection, several things seemed off, he said Friday after the sentencing. Valves were misaligned, oil appeared where it shouldn’t have, and a device called the oil-water separator didn’t appear to have been maintained.
“Every step I went further, another red flag would come up,” Petty Officer Hamilton said.
Inspectors were presented with an official log book showing no discharges of oil-fouled bilge water, but prosecutors later discovered that 5,000 gallons had been dumped at sea.
George Chalos, a New York attorney for the companies, recommended a total fine of $100,000, arguing that the misconduct was committed by rogue employees without the knowledge or approval of management, and that the companies stood to gain nothing by falsifying the records. The companies had no prior criminal history and are committed to protecting the environment, he said.
But the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which recommended a $3 million fine, said shipping company executives had been in touch with the vessel’s engineers about how they should present the log book to the Coast Guard. The companies’ motive was to avoid being detained in Seattle for environmental noncompliance so the valuable soybean shipment could depart on schedule, assistant U.S. attorneys Seth Wilkinson and Matt Diggs said.