Just this week, Princess Cruise Lines Ltd has agreed to pay $40 million in penalties as part of a plea deal regarding felony charges in relation to illegally dumping contaminated oil waste from its Caribbean Princess cruise liner as well as the compounding efforts to cover up the spills. Caribbean Princess cruise ships visit US ports in Maine, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, and the US Virgin Islands.
On Thursday, US Attorney Wifredo A Ferrer, for the Southern District of Florida, and the Assistant Attorney General John C Cruden, of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division announced the plea agreement. The charges allege that the Miami-based Carnival Corporation subsidiary (which happens to be the largest cruise company in the world) used a “magic pipe” on August 23, 2013 to illegally [and discreetly] discharge oil waste while just off the coast of England.
Federal prosecutors argue, “Caribbean Princess used multiple methods over the course of time to pollute the seas. Prior to the installation of the bypass pipe used to make the discharge off the coast of England, a different unauthorized valve was used.”
As part of this deal, ships from eight Carnival cruise line companies have been placed under a court-supervised Environmental Compliance Program for the next five years. The Department of Justice explains that the cruise lines now under court supervision are: AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line NV, and Seabourn Cruise Line.
As could be expected, Princess Cruise [corporate] issued the following statement in regards to the ruling: “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 our ocean.”
Ferrer, however, makes sure to note that this Princess Cruise case is “particularly troubling,” because this is not their first offense. Back in 2002, Carnival also plead guilty to federal ocean pollution violation charges which found that six of its ships (dispatched from Florida) had discharged oily waste over five years in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. This resulted in the agreement to pay $18 million in fines.
Indeed, Cruden goes on to say, “The pollution in this case was the result of more than just bad actors on one ship. It reflects very poorly on Princess’ culture and management. This is a company that knew better and should have done better.”