Ship scrapping company cited for environmental violations

Michael P. Tremoglie Jul. 24, 2012, 5:22am

NORFOLK, Va. (Legal Newsline) - Two Virginia scrap company owners were sentenced for violation of environmental laws July 12.

The Norfolk, Va., U.S. Attorney's office announced that Steven E. Avery, 56 of Bohannon, Va., Billy J. Avery, 81 of Virginia Beach, Va., and the corporation Sea Solutions, Inc., were sentenced in Norfolk federal court for pollution activities in the course of operating the ship scrapping business.

"The defendants knowingly polluted the environment through their illegal discharges," Environmental Protection Agency Special Agent in Charge David McLeod said.

"Today's sentencing sends a clear message to other potential violators that companies and their senior executives will be held responsible for their actions and intentional noncompliance with the law will be prosecuted."

Steven was sentenced to one year in prison and a $25,000 fine, Billy was sentenced to five years of probation, nine months of home confinement and a $25,000 fine, and Sea Solutions was sentenced to one year of probation and is barred from further engaging in the ship scrapping business.

The three defendants were also collectively ordered to pay $66,402.41 in restitution.

According to court documents, the defendants purchased a vessel known as M/V Snow Bird in February 2010 for the purpose of scrapping. The vessel contained a quantity of petroleum products and other pollutants and the defendants knew this, it is alleged. But rather than remove the pollutants they allegedly began scrapping operations with the pollutants onboard.

The U.S. Attorney's communique said that during the course of several months, witnesses complained of pollutants emanating from the ship. Finally the defendants caused a major spill of oil, oily water and other pollutants from the M/V Snow Bird into the Elizabeth River in October 2010, the release said.

The federal government spent more than $66,000 for a cleanup operation that removed several thousand gallons of oily waste from the Elizabeth River and the shoreline.

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