In 2016, Princess Cruise Lines agreed to pay a $40 million penalty for illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste into the sea and acts by employees to try to cover it up.
It was the largest criminal penalty ever imposed for intentional vessel pollution, and the Justice Department put the cruise line’s parent company, Carnival Corporation, on notice.
But that did not stop the company from polluting again, according to federal prosecutors.
On Monday, Carnival and its Princess line acknowledged violating probation terms from the 2016 case and were ordered to pay an additional $20 million penalty, putting further pressure on the world’s largest cruise corporation.
The new violations included discharging plastic into waters in the Bahamas, falsifying records and interfering with court supervision of ships by sending in teams ahead of inspections to pre-empt environmental violations, according to the corporation’s agreement with the Justice Department.
“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,” Ariana Fajardo Orshan, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement.
The agreement came after the federal judge overseeing the case, Patricia A. Seitz, expressed frustration with Carnival’s “repeat offenses” and even threatened to bar its cruise ships from docking at United States ports. She ordered the corporation’s top executives to appear in person at a court hearing on Monday in Miami.
“I do take responsibility for the problems we have,” the corporation’s chief executive, Arnold W. Donald, said at the hearing, according to The Miami Herald. “I am extremely disappointed that we’ve had them. I know you have reservations about our commitment and who we are. I want you to know we are fully committed.”
Vessel pollution is just one of the many human-caused hazards facing ocean life today. Ship traffic and noise can cause the death of sea creatures; marine animals routinely turn up dead with plastic in their stomachs; and rising sea temperatures, stemming from climate change caused by human activity, are destroying the framework of many ocean ecosystems.
For decades, cruise lines — including Carnival — have been closely watched for violations of environmental rules. And even the most efficient cruise ships can emit three to four times as much carbon dioxide per passenger-mile as an airplane jet can.
Carnival, based in Miami, is a global operation that has a strong hold on the cruise market. In addition to Princess, its cruise lines include Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Seabourn. Together, the various brands serve about 11 million travelers each year, about 50 percent of the global cruise market, according to the company’s website.
Carnival’s stock market value is estimated to be nearly $35 billion.
In 2002, Carnival was ordered to pay $18 million in fines after pleading guilty to criminal charges related to falsifying records of oil-contaminated bilge water that six of its ships had dumped into the sea.
The company came under additional scrutiny after Princess agreed, in 2016, to plead guilty to felony charges and pay the hefty $40 million penalty.
In that case, prosecutors said that employees of one of the company’s cruise ships, the Caribbean Princess, had used several means, including a device called a magic pipe, to circumvent water-cleaning mechanisms and digital devices monitoring oil levels. Officials said that four other Princess ships had also been found to have engaged in illegal practices to discharge waste….
Source: www.nytimes.com (By Sarah Mervosh)