Six officials of Sabine Transportation Inc. recently were indicted for conspiring to illegally discharge oil-contaminated grain at sea and obstruct a U.S. Coast Guard proceeding.
On Feb. 3, Rick D. Stickle, chairman and CEO of Sabine Transportation Inc., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Michael R. Reeve, Sabine president; John Karayannides, Sabine vice president; Michael M. Krider, port engineer; George K. McKay, master of the SS Juneau; and Phillip J. Hitchens, chief officer of the SS Juneau; were indicted.
The indictment arose from the improper dumping of approximately 442 metric tons of wheat contaminated with diesel fuel in the South China Sea in February 1999.
The wheat was intended for humanitarian relief in Bangladesh but became contaminated with oil while on the ship. Rather than pay for proper disposal, the defendants allegedly hired workers to dump the wheat at sea and falsely claimed it was processed through the ship's pollution control equipment prior to discharge.
In fact, the pollution control equipment aboard the ship was not designed to handle this type of waste. Sabine Transportation previously pled guilty in this case and was sentenced.
Dumping of oily wastes which have not been properly passed through pollution control equipment can harm fish and aquatic life.
The case was investigated by the St. Louis and Jacksonville Area Offices of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the FBI. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Iowa and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.