Celebrity Reveals Mercury Breached Discharge Rules

November 21, 2006
In an environmental faux pas, Celebrity Cruises admits that its Mercury discharged untreated wastewater in "waters more than four nautical miles from the State of Washington, in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca."

The cruise line was fined $100,000 for the reportedly more than a half million gallons of pollution discharged improperly. The company, in a statement, says that "the error regarding the locations of the discharges was the result of a misinterpretation regarding the reach of Washington state waters. Most state waters reach out three miles. In Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington state boundaries can be two or more times that distance.

"Celebrity Cruises takes full responsibility for these discharges and has taken corrective actions, including modifications to our management systems, revisions to our discharge procedures and the dismissal of the specific crew member involved."

According to Washington's Department of Ecology, the discharges included a small percentage of treated sewage and a larger percentage of untreated run-off from sinks, showers and laundry.

The company, in its statement, quotes President Dan Hanrahan as saying that "we have fully cooperated with the State of Washington during its investigation and we will continue to do so as we work to resolve this matter and to ensure events of this sort do not arise in the future.

"To prevent such events in the future, we are installing advanced wastewater purification systems on all of our ships. This represents a total investment of well over $50 million by our company. These technologically advanced systems are used to clean all wastewater generated onboard our vessels. At the end of the cleaning process the wastewater is virtually drinking water quality and so clean that it far exceeds all existing standards in the world today, including those in the State of Washington."

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor