April 22, 2002
Carnival Corp.’s been fined a whopping $18 million for polluting the environment. The cruise line pled guilty to charges that ship engineers -- aboard Tropicale, Sensation, Fantasy, Ecstasy, Paradise and Imagination -- had discharged waste water and oil into the Caribbean, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. In addition to manually overriding sensors that were specifically designed to prevent such dumping, shipboard staff also falsified logs on environmental discharge that the government requires cruise lines to keep. Carnival has issued a statement acknowledging its missteps: “Carnival Corporation accepts responsibility for the conduct that is the subject of its guilty plea. Carnival cooperated fully with the government's investigation which is now fully and finally concluded. The company is committed to environmental compliance, and we are adopting a compliance program that will make Carnival the industry leader in sound environmental practices.” The $18 million payment amounts to $9 million in fines and another $9 million to environmentally-related causes. Carnival has also agreed to create environmental-watchdog executive-level positions within the company and conduct training for appropriate on-board personnel. If this all sounds familiar that’s because it is. Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line targeted by the U.S. Coast Guard for environmental offenses; in 1999 that company was fined a record-setting $27 million. Royal Caribbean’s problems alerted the government to possible illegal environmental actions on an industry-wide basis and the Carnival investigation began in 2000. The government continues to investigate other major cruise lines. Stay tuned; this issue isn’t over yet.