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Norwegian Corporation Pleads Guilty to Spilling Oil at Sea

Release Date: 01/22/2003
Contact Information:

Teresa Libera 202-564-7873 /

(01/22/03) Billabong II ANS, a Norwegian corporation which owns the Motor Vessel Star Evviva, pled guilty on Jan. 10. Early morning of Jan. 14, 1999, the Star Evviva experienced a malfunction in its fuel oil transfer system. The malfunction caused approximately 23,096 gallons of bunker oil to be pumped on deck. The oil then flowed from the deck into the Atlantic Ocean. The spill was the direct result of the company’s failure to promptly repair an engine room malfunction alarm system and failure to station a crewman in the engine room to watch for malfunctions while the alarm was out-of-service. Release of this oil resulted in the death of at least 183 birds. The former ship’s captain and former chief engineer were indicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Both men are currently fugitives. The plea agreement calls for Billabong to pay a fine of $200,000, which will go to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and to also pay an additional $300,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation/Savannah-Santee-Pee Dee Conservation Fund. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Coast Guard. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charleston, S.C. An indictment is merely an accusation and all defendants are considered innocent unless or until proven guilty in a court of law.