Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/617100
16 Proceedings Winter 2015–2016 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Though many times in these "magic pipe" cases, no one observes the resultant oil slick or sheen because the dis- charge occurs out in open water, inspectors may uncover evidence of illegal activity during port state exams. For example, inspectors are trained to note things like dis- crepancies in the vessel's oil record book, freshly painted bolts and fanges in the engine room, or an extraneous fex- ible hose stashed in a corner. USCG inspectors have also received reports from whistleblowers who witnessed inten- tional discharge. When a spill sample is absent, submitting other samples from various locations on the vessel can provide critical information to investigators and prosecutors, since detect- ing petroleum oil where it does not belong is an important fnding. For example, Marine Safety Laboratory personnel have processed samples from marine sanitation devices, boiler blow-down valves, and piping on the discharge side of oil fltration equipment. When oil is detected in these locations, it provides forensic evidence to investigators that something is amiss, helping to piece together the events. Petroleum oil fngerprinting can also corroborate or dis- prove statements. For example, a lone whistleblower may tell a USCG inspector that a fexible hose located in the engine room was used to transfer oily bilge waste over the side of the vessel. Other crewmembers may insist that such activity never occurred, and the fexible hose was used exclusively to transfer clean water from one tank to another. Submitting the hose to the MSL for solvent extraction can prove whether or not petroleum oil passed through it — and who's telling the truth. Beyond Oil Spills While MSL analyses most frequently support oil spill inves- tigations, the Marine Safety Laboratory has provided indis- pensable forensic services for a wide variety of law enforce- ment activities, as well. Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering: The State of New Jer- sey Division of Criminal Justice Environmental Crimes Unit was investigating an underground storage tank testing com- pany that provided readings regarding heating oil storage tank integrity. It was alleged that the company knowingly used faulty equipment and recorded false readings. The company also collected soil samples from each property to submit for hydrocarbon testing. Investigators suspected that instead of directly sending the samples for testing, the company would frst spike the samples with diesel fuel to ensure a positive hydrocarbon reading. They would then provide the false readings to clients to solicit work for a related business to remove the "leaking" storage tank and remediate the site. the MSL was able to provide absolute confirmation that Deepwater Horizon oil hadn't reached the Gulf Current loop. What if No One Sees a Spill? The USCG and Department of Justice have been working together to hold pollution offenders accountable for deliber- ate discharges of oily waste into the marine environment. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships requires that bilge waste containing more than 15 parts per million of oil be transferred to a shoreside facil- ity. Unfortunately, not all operators adhere to this require- ment. Offenders may use a variety of novel techniques to bypass the vessel's oil fltration equipment, dumping the oily waste directly overboard. Marine Safety Laboratory Customers Federal U.S. Coast Guard Department of the Navy Environmental Protection Agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Mine Safety and Health Administration National Park Service U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forest Service Federal Bureau of Investigations State Texas General Land Ofce New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Maine Department of Environmental Protection Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Local Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab Orange County Environmental Protection Division Town of East Lyme Department of Public Safety Detroit Water and Sewage Downers Grove Fire Department Hillsborough County Sherif's Ofce Montville Wastewater Treatment Plant Ramsey County Public Health Department