Fishermen face federal charges for dumping waste in Blaine waters

The owner and captain of a commercial fishing vessel have been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy for dumping oil and other pollutants into Blaine Harbor and ocean waters, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Bingham Fox, owner of the fishing vessel Native Sun, and his son Randall Fox, the boat’s captain, first dumped the waste in 2011 and continued to do so into 2013, according to DOJ. The alleged discharges also were violations of the Clean Water Act and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

The Thursday, April 7, indictment comes after an investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The indictment alleges that the Foxes purchased the Native Sun without a functioning bilge system to separate waste from water to be appropriately discarded later. Instead of repairing the system, the indictment says, the Foxes installed a series of hoses and pumps, and ran the hoses out of the engine room and over the side of the boat. They then allegedly pumped the waste through the hoses into Blaine Harbor roughly every other day between July 2011 and May 2012.

The Foxes also allegedly pumped bulk quantities of soap through the hoses with the oil to hide the sheen, the indictment claims.

The indictment also alleges the Foxes dumped waste into the ocean on five occasions between June and September 2013.

Bingham Fox allegedly ordered other members of the crew to dump waste into Blaine Harbor and other coastal waters as part of dockside maintenance. The boat, the DOJ says, did not have a Clean Water Act permit or oil-water separation equipment required by the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships to discard the waste.

The Foxes each face two maximum penalties of $250,000, one for each of the two federal laws they allegedly violated. Violation of the Clean Water Act also comes with a maximum three years in prison, and six years for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

They are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday, April 14.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan