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Updated: Monday, 16 May 2011, 5:19 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 16 May 2011, 5:19 PM EDT
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - A Virginia marine company and its president both pleaded guilty Monday in Norfolk federal court to violating the Clean Water Act and Refuse Act by knowingly dumping pollutants into the Elizabeth River.
Marine Environmental Services, Inc. (MES) and its President, Jerry R. Askew, Sr., of Portsmouth, both pleaded guilty to knowingly discharging pollutants into river, in violation of the Clean Water Act, and discharging refuse matter into navigable waters in violation of the Refuse Act, a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said.
According to court documents, in October 2005, MES, headed by Askew, was hired to clean the tanks of the USS Pawcatuck, a decommissioned tanker that was scheduled for disposal.
A prior survey showed that Pawcatuck's tanks contained 2.1 million gallons of ballast water polluted by oil, grease, bacteria, heavy metals, and other materials.
During the cleaning process, MES and ASKEW knowingly discharged about 500,000 gallons of the polluted ballast water into the Elizabeth River without a permit.
As part of its plea, the court records state that MES agreed to invest $50,000 in community service projects that directly benefit the Elizabeth River watershed.
MES faces a maximum penalty of five years of probation and a $500,000 fine, and Askew faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $100,000 when they are sentenced in August.
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