FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JANUARY 5, 1995

ENR (202) 616-2771 TDD (202) 514-1888

COMPANY AND TOP OFFICIALS PLEAD GUILTY TO POLLUTING MISSISSIPPI IN NEW USE OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS TO PROTECT INLAND WATERWAYS POLLUTERS NICKNAMED DUMPING SITE "GORDON'S REEF" IN HONOR OF COMPANY PRESIDENT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A Louisiana shipping company, its president and two managers today pleaded guilty to the nighttime dumping of oil, chemical wastes, plastics and garbage into the Mississippi River. Crescent Ship Services, Inc., agreed to pay a $250,000 fine and to establish an environmental compliance program. Company president Frederick Gordon Willhoft, Jr., and the company's port captain Lewin Pizani, Jr., pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Company manager Eric M. Willhoft pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Each faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. "This case marks the first time that the Government has charged individuals with felony violations of these statutes." said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources. "This is also the first time these laws have been used to criminally prosecute pollution in an inland waterway." The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships was amended in 1987, making it applicable to inland waters. According to documents filed in court, the pollutants were dumped at night by employees who were told to take the waste products to "Gordon's Reef," a reference to Crescent's president. Between January 1991 and July 1993, the crews illegally disposed of engine parts, wooden pallets, plastic shrink wrap and chemical cleansers. Evidence was presented in court that waste oil that accumulated in the bilges of a dozen boats the company operated was routinely pumped overboard into the river. Crescent Ship boats were operated while tied to the dock in order to create backwash to disperse the resulting oil slicks. -MORECrescent Ships runs a river launch business that takes passengers and goods to various locations on the Mississippi River, on approximately one dozen vessels, from launch sites in St. Rose, Burnside, Grandview and Reserve in southeastern Louisiana. "This investigation demonstrates federal law enforcement's commitment to vigorously prosecute environmental crimes," said Eddie J. Jordan, Jr. United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The guilty pleas were entered today before U.S. District Judge Marcel Livaudais, Jr., in New Orleans.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Crescent Ship must establish and maintain an effective environmental compliance program, retain a government approved independent environmental consultant, make quarterly reports to the Court, train its employees regarding applicable environmental laws and regulations, and appoint a corporate officer responsible for environmental matters. The case was jointly prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section. Both Ms. Schiffer and Mr. Jordan commended the FBI, the Department of Transportation Inspector General's Office and Coast Guard Investigations for their excellent work and close cooperation in investigating this matter. Additional assistance was provided by the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, Coast Guard Marine Safety Laboratory, Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigative Division, EPA National Enforcement Investigations Center, the U.S. Customs Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. ### 94-008