Record Penalty for Princess Cruises Princess Cruises Ltd. has agreed to
plead guilty to seven felony charges stemming from its deliberate pollution of the seas and intentional acts to cover it up. Princess Cruises, Santa Clarita, CA, is a subsidiary of Carnival Corportation. Under the plea agreement, Princess will pay a $40 million penalty—the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution—and plead guilty to charges related to illegal dumping of oil contaminated waste from the cruise ship Caribbean Princess. Furthermore, eight Carnival cruise line companies will be under a court supervised Environmental Compliance Program (ECP) for five years. The ECP will require independent audits by an outside entity and a court appointed monitor. The U.S. investigation into the Caribbean Princess was initiated after an engineer on the ship reported that a so-called “magic pipe” had been used August 2013 to illegally discharge oily waste off the coast of England. The discharge in August 2013 involved approximately 4,227 gallons, 23 miles off the coast of England within the country’s
Exclusive Economic Zone. The whistleblower eventually quit once the ship reached Southampton, England. After learning that an engineer had blown the whistle, senior ship engineers dismantled the bypass pipe and instructed crew members to lie. The U.S. Coast Guard conducted an examination of the ship upon its arrival in New York City on September 14, 2013. During the examination, certain crew members continued to lie in accordance with orders they had received from Princess employees. According to court papers, the Caribbean Princess had been making illegal discharges through bypass equipment since 2005—just one year after the ship began operations.
Multiple methods were used over the course of time to pollute the sea. Beyond the use of the magic pipe—which circumvent the oily water separator and oil content monitor required pollution prevention equipment—the U.S. investigation found two other illegal practices were taking place on the ship as well as four other Princess cruise ships— Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess. One practice was to open a salt water valve when bilge waste was being processed by the oily water separator and oil content monitor; the second involved discharges of oil bilge water originating from the overflow of gray water tanks into the machinery space bilges.
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December 2016 // Marine Log 13