We’re all aware, even if it’s in a vague sense, that a lot of human waste is ocean-bound when we dispose of it. And, of course, there’s that annoying human tendency to litter profusely during beach days. The end result? A lot of trash filling up our oceans, to the point that it’s become a serious problem.
So that’s why this Carnival cruise scandal is a big deal. Because a Carnival subsidiary just admitted to improperly dumping its waste into the ocean – and now they’ve gotta pay up. As if our oceans weren’t already dirty enough.
Here’s the full story on Carnival’s run-in with the law. You won’t believe just how big this breach in garbage disposal actually was!
Carnival Corp is on the hook for a lot of dough.
And it’s not even just for mass-littering into the ocean. It’s for doing it after a previous settlement was already made…
That year, Carnival Corp, which owns several cruise lines including Princess Cruises, pleaded guilty to seven felony charges.
For eight years, five of Carnival’s Princess Cruise Line ships had been illegally dumping oil into the ocean and covering it up.
These cruises had just been dumping it all in the ocean… So that’s not great!
At the end of the settlement, Carnival Corp agreed to pay a $20 million fine – that’s the largest-ever criminal penalty involving intentional pollution by vessels.
Which is still ongoing right now. Originally, Carnival was on probation for five years.
Because corporations need probation officers, too. So Steven Solow, a partner at a Washington D.C. law firm, was assigned to be Carnival’s monitor.
From April 2017 through April 2018, Solow’s reports uncovered some less-than-savory practices that Carnival just couldn’t seem to give up.
And, yeah, those are just the events leading up to April last year, so…buckle up.
Just in that first year, Carnival’s inspector found over 800 violations of the probation agreement, although the violations were apparently accidental and were reported by Carnival.
Nobody ever said that the path to being environmentally conscious was a smooth one.
“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,” a Carnival representative said while speaking to Business Insider.
“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,” the representative added.
According to Carnival’s year in review, here are some of those 800 violations listed:
Company ships discharged over 500,000 gallons of treated sewage, nearly all of which went into Bahamian waters, plus, twelve gallons of oil (mostly lifeboat fuel) was thrown in there.
There are both international and domestic laws which prohibit dumping into ports and into waters close to land.
That’s because the average cruise ship makes about 21,000 gallons of sewage in one day. Carnival owns 105 ships around the world…which adds up to over 2 million gallons of sewage produced in one day!
So, 500,000 gallons isn’t actually that much.
I mean, it’s definitely still fine-worthy and it’s horrible for the planet, but, comparatively, it could’ve been much worse. Altogether, the illegally-dumped sewage represents less than 1% of Carnival’s annual output.
Around 11,000 gallons of food waste was released too close to shore, thereby violating a number of international laws.
Brace yourselves, this one’s really bad.
On nineteen occasions, unfiltered heavy fuel oil was burned in protected areas for a total of forty-four hours.
See, other violations included throwing physical objects overboard.
I’m not really sure why, on a big luxurious boat, someone’s idea of a good time would be tossing out the furniture… but, hey, everyone has their own definition of “fun”.
People aboard the ships (most of them, passengers) threw five chairs, forty-one pillows, and ten tables into the water. Sounds like a rager!
And that’s very illegal.
Sewage and food waste can be dumped in the ocean; it’s just that there are specifications as to where – anywhere near land is generally off limits. But plain ol’ physical garbage is just illegal, no matter where you are.
The ocean isn’t the same as a landfill, so throwing out old lawn furniture in there!
Because the company’s monitor also found four instances of falsified records related to training and maintenance. More on that later.
Before 2016, another of Carnival’s subsidiaries ran afoul of the law while illegally dumping oil.
This was back in 1998; the company then paid a $2 million fine and underwent a five-year probation period.
Carnival Corp pleaded guilty to falsifying records regarding illegally discharged oily waste on six different ships. That fine totalled $18 million–and another 5-year probation.
“We call you high-risk defendants when you have this number of repeat offenses,” Judge Seitz told Carnival Corp’s lawyers during the hearing process.
“The defendant is a criminal. It is a recidivist criminal.”
Royal Caribbean Cruises paid $9 million in 1999 when it pleaded guilty to covering up dumps of toxic waste-water and rigging its ships to bypass pollution control equipment.
That cruise line company paid a $1 million fine for falsifying records to cover up the oil-dumps.
But Carnival is easily the biggest repeat offender, so it makes sense that they’re being slapped with the heaviest fine in cruise ship history!
“Carnival Corporation remains committed to environmental excellence and protecting the environment in which we live, work, and travel,” a Carnival representative said after this latest settlement. “Our aspiration is to leave the places we touch even better than when we first arrived.”
Let’s hope that proves true in the future. Share this story to keep your environment-aware friends in the loop!