PITTSBURGH The owners of
a Norfolk, Va.-based ship-scrapping company face prison time
and fines for allegedly demolishing a vessel in 2010 that was
still filled with contaminants.
Billy J. Avery, 81, and Steven
E. Avery, 56, the owners of Sea Solutions Inc., pleaded guilty
to environmental charges in U.S. District Court in Virginia.
They were charged with conspiring to illegally discharge
pollutants, in violation of the Clean Water Act, and
with making allegedly false statements to an Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) investigator.
The U.S. Justice Department
alleged that Sea Solutions was aware that the M/V Snow
Bird contained petroleum products and other pollutants
when it purchased the vessel, but began scrapping it in 2010
without removing the fluids. The material then spilled into the
Elizabeth River, and clean-up costs totaled more than $66,000.
The company allegedly pumped contaminated water overboard
during the scrapping process to remove excess contaminated
water and fluids from the ship to prevent it from sinking, the
"Americas waterways must
be protected from companies that look to cut corners by
discharging oily wastewater illegally," David G. McLeod Jr.,
special agent in charge of the EPAs criminal enforcement
program in Virginia, said.
Both men, who could not be
reached for comment, face a prison sentence of up to one year,
a $500,000 fine and five years probation. Sentencing is
set for July.