ANCHORAGE - Five more people have been indicted by an Anchorage federal grand jury for their roles in an ocean pollution conspiracy involving oil dumping from cargo ships that regularly travel in Alaska.
Prosecutors also announced that four maritime companies have pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy.
The indictment charges a corporate director, two corporate managers, a ship's captain and a first engineer with conspiracy to lie to the Coast Guard, conceal the dumping of waste water and obstruct the investigation.
A ship's captain and two chief engineers already were convicted in the dumping.
During an inspection in Dutch Harbor in February, the Coast Guard discovered the freighters, which transport frozen seafood from Alaska to Asia, were bypassing oily water separators and dumping oil waste at sea. The pollution prevention devices separate oil from water and are supposed to produce water clean enough by government standards to discharge from the ships.
Prosecutors said crew members were directed to lie when questioned about the dumping.
"This was a pattern in practice for more than a dozen fleets for seven years," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis.
The charges against In Seok Yang, a member of the board of directors of Boyang Maritime Kyeong Shin Deep Sea Fisheries Co. of Pusan, Korea, are the first to have been filed in the United States against a corporate board member for his involvement in vessel pollution.
Two senior shore-side managers at Boyang, Gum Hyang Kwon and Young Min Han, are the first onshore mangers to be charged, federal prosecutors said.
The others indicted were Min Gweon Go and Su Hwan Lee, captain and first engineer of the Sohoh.
Prosecutors also announced the corporations' guilty pleas.
"Four corporations have all admitted and acknowledged this was a pattern in practice," Feldis said.
The maritime companies that operated, managed and controlled the fleet of cargo freighters, Boyang Maritime, Boyang Limited, TransPorts International and Oswego Limited, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hide the routine discharge of waste into the ocean since at least 1995.
"Through the investigation we were able to discover the oil sludge and oily discharge waste was coming from the highest levels," Feldis said.
The corporations worked together to falsify log books and tamper with witnesses in order to save time, money and other resources, Feldis said.
The corporate employers agreed to pay a $5 million fine, create an environmental compliance plan that will be monitored by the federal court and serve five years probation. The companies also must set aside $500,000 in escro as an initial fundng for the cost of implementing the environmental plan. The court must approve of the plea arrangement.
A million dollars of the fine will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.