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Virginia Man and Tank Cleaning Company Convicted of Refuse and Clean Water Act Violations

On May 16, 2011, Jerry Askew, general manager of Marine Environmental Services, Inc. (MES), a tank cleaning company, pled guilty in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Refuse Act.  Additionally, Mr. Askew, acting on behalf of MES, entered a guilty plea to the felony charge of violating the Clean Water Act.  

In October 2010, Mr. Askew and MES were indicted on multiple charges associated with the illegal discharge of approximately 500,000 gallons of contaminated ballast water into the Elizabeth River and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District sewer system.  MES was the subcontractor hired by Bay Bridge Enterprises to remove fluids from the USS Pawcatuck as part of a ship scrapping contract with the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD).  MARAD's contract required compliance with all Federal, State, and local environmental laws and regulations. 

The indictment also charged Mr. Askew and MES with making material false statements by way of omission with respect to these illegal discharges in reports that were submitted to MARAD.  Additionally, the indictment charged Mr. Askew with making false statements to the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, and the Coast Guard, when he advised them that he had authority from the Coast Guard to discharge ballast water from the USS Pawcatuck into the Elizabeth River, when the Coast Guard had not advised him or given him such permission. 

This investigation was conducted jointly with EPA-CID, DCIS, NCIS, and CGIS.