Huge modern and luxurious ships that cruise the world carry thousands of passengers. Have you ever wondered about the way they deal with the massive amounts of waste created during a voyage?
Well, some cruise lines have deserved a bad reputation when it comes to pollution, including the largest travel leisure company in the world.
The cruise line giant Carnival Corporation has agreed to pay a penalty of $20 million for environmental crimes committed by its subsidiary, Princess Cruise Lines, which has already paid a fine of $40 million over deliberate acts of pollution.
In June last year, the corporation admitted to violating the terms of an improper waste disposal agreement signed in 2017.
$40 million fine came after one of the engineers admitted the illegal acts of dumping oil waste into the water. He told authorities that engineers used a special device called the “magic pipe” to bypass the water treatment system of the ship and dump oil waste straight into the ocean.
Since this was the largest criminal penalty ever imposed for intentional vessel pollution, the Justice Department placed on a five-year probation term.
During this time, all its ships were regularly visited by an environmental inspector.
In the period between April 2017 and April 2018, the inspectors recorded more than 800 violations, including dumping 500,000 gallons of sewage and 12 gallons of oil into the ocean off the Bahamas
Most of these violations were later considered accidental, and the company allegedly declared them.
Yet, this year, they were found massively violating the 2017 agreement on six counts: dumping food and waste directly into the Bahamian waters; sending teams to visit ships before the expectations to fix environmental compliance violations; failure to accurately or honestly record waste disposals; falsifying training records, and contacting the U.S Coast Guard to modify the truth in their “non-conformity” report.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, stated:
“A corporation is responsible to its shareholders and board of directors to be profitable, but not by breaking the law and destroying the very environment in which it navigates for profit.”
The hearing was presided by U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz, who approved the fine. She demanded that all the senior executives and CEOs of the corporation attend the hearing due to the seriousness of the issue, and turned to CEO Arnold Donald:
“You not only work for employees and shareholders. You are a steward of the environment. The environment needs to be a core value, and I hope and pray it becomes your daily anthem.”
“I sincerely regret these mistakes. I do take responsibility for the problems we had. I’m extremely personally disappointed we have them. I am personally committed to achieve best in class for compliance.”
Kendra Ulrich of Stand.earth stated:
“Today’s ruling was a betrayal of the public trust and a continuation of the weak enforcement that has allowed Carnival Corporation to continue to profit by selling the environment to its passengers while its cruise ships contribute to the destruction of the fragile ecosystems they visit.”
Judge Seitz had considered banning the company and its 105 cruise ships from docking at U.S ports in 2019, but this time, they decided to let them off, but they have to pay 15 annual audits in addition to the $20 million fine. Any further violations might make them pay up to $10 million daily in fines.
Numerous environmental groups and customers maintain that fines on the order of $20 million are not significant enough to force the corporation to change its old dumping practices, as the sum is equivalent to just 0.1% of the $18.88 billion the corporation brought in for 2018.
Similarly, the fine of $40 million paid in 2017 was just 0.2 percent of the $17.51 billion they made in 2017.
According to a representative of the company:
“These issues were unacceptable failures in our processes that were not in accordance with our policies and procedures, and do not reflect the culture we have built at Carnival Corporation and across our nine cruise line brands.
We have been taking steps to address the improvement areas mentioned in the report, and to build on the positive progress noted by the court-appointed monitor to make sure we are in full compliance moving forward.”