Feds: Towing vessel engineer pleads guilty to discharging fuel in Bayonne’s Kill Van Kull


A towing vessel engineer pleaded guilty to negligently discharging fuel in Bayonne’s Kill Van Kull over six years ago, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced.

Screenshot via YouTube.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Michael Brown, 67, of Kingston, Tennessee, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Leda D. Wettre to an information charging him with violating the Clean Water Act by negligently discharging marine diesel fuel oil while refueling his towing vessel at the International Matex Tank Terminal’s Mobil Pier in Bayonne.

On September 12th, 2016, Brown failed to exercise due care in conducting the transfer of fuel oil to the towing vessel, resulting in the discharge of hundreds of gallons of fuel oil into the Kill Van Kull.

Brown also admitted that, in response to questions by the U.S. Coast Guard, he failed to disclose that the origin of the spill was the towing vessel.

The Clean Water Act, as amended by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, makes it a crime for a person to negligently discharge oil into or upon the navigable waters of the United States in such quantities as may be harmful.

The Kill Van Kull, a tidal straight that connects Newark Bay with Upper New York Bay, is a navigable water of the U.S.

Brown has agreed, as part of his plea agreement, to pay a fine of $4,000 to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

The charge to which Brown pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment and a maximum fine equal to the greatest of $100,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense.

His sentencing is scheduled for February 7th, 2023.

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