Cruises are like floating piles of sewerage that you pay to ride for a week. But sometimes cruises need to release a bit of that sewerage so that the ship doesn’t sink. Dumping of bilge water is tightly regulated when cruises are near populated areas. But Princess Cruises, owned by Carnival Corp, just spent a decade illegally releasing that garbage into the ocean. Today, the US Department of Justice announced that it reached a $US40 million ($54 million) settlement with the company over its illegal dumping and efforts to cover it up.
A sewerage boat (Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines via Getty Images)
“The pollution in this case was the result of more than just bad actors on one ship,” said Assistant Attorney General Cruden in a DOJ statement. “It reflects very poorly on Princess’s culture and management. This is a company that knew better and should have done better. Hopefully the outcome of this case has the potential not just to chart a new course for this company, but for other companies as well.”
The company has pleaded guilty to seven felony charges for intentionally polluting the ocean after a 2013 investigation near England first discovered that Carnival’s Princess Cruises had been illegally dumping oily bilge water since 2005. According to the EPA, bilge water can contain anything from oil and grease to garbage and human sewage.
What was Carnival’s response? They threw their employees under the bus (or the sewerage ship, I guess) and made it seem like this was just the actions of a few bad employees, rather than an established policy of the company.
“We are extremely disappointed about the inexcusable actions of our employees who violated our policies and environmental law when they bypassed our bilge water treatment system and discharged untreated bilge water into the ocean,” the disingenuous statement from Carnival said. Remember that the DOJ found that this pollution wasn’t just “bad actors on a ship” but was in fact company policy.
“The conduct being addressed today is particularly troubling because the Carnival family of companies has a documented history of environmental violations, including in the Southern District of Florida,” said US Attorney Ferrer in a statement.
“Our hope is that all companies abide by regulations that are in place to protect our natural resources and prevent environmental harm. Today’s case should send a powerful message to other companies that the US government will continue to enforce a zero tolerance policy for deliberate ocean dumping that endangers the countless animals, marine life and humans who rely on clean water to survive,” Ferrer continued.
“The marine environment is incredibly important to us and we are using this experience to further improve our operations,” Carnival Cruises said, presumably with a straight face. “Princess Cruises stands committed to environmental practices that protect our oceans.”