Greece Fines Sea Diamond Owners, Captain for Pollution

June 19, 2007

Two months after Sea Diamond sank off the coast of Santorini, Greece's Merchant Marine Ministry has fined parent company Louis Group, operator Louis Cruise Lines and Greek captain Yiannis Marinos a total of 1.17 million euros ($1.57 million) for environmental pollution.

According to news reports, the company and captain are being fined for polluting the Aegean Sea and the coast near the shipwreck, and "failing to submit a final action plan to pump the remaining fuel trapped underwater." Louis was expected to submit a plan on June 6; a new date has not yet been set though the company said in a statement that every effort is being made to prevent environmental damage, in close cooperation with the coast guard.

The Santorini Port Authority is also fining the company 8,804 euros for every day it does not pump out the oil. It's believed that the ship's tanks contained some 450 tons of fuel, and have leaked an estimated 300 tons since sinking off the island two months ago.

Vassilis Mamaloukas, an environmental engineer leading the clean-up, told the Associated Press that things are going "very smoothly" and that most of the fuel has already seeped out of the tanks and been collected (approximately 250 to 300 tons).

Nearly 1,600 passengers and crewmembers were safely evacuated before the ship sank; two French passengers are missing and presumed drowned. Marinos, 35, and five other crewmembers face criminal charges of negligence in the shipwreck.

In other environmental news, a recent survey by the World Wildlife Fund revealed that most cruise and ferry companies operating in the Baltic Sea have failed to "voluntarily ban" the polluting practice of waste water dumping. In a recent campaign, 50-plus companies were contacted -- and 11 pledged to stop discharging untreated waste water including Peter Deilmann and Hurtigruten (also known as Norwegian Costal Voyage).

Among those that haven't agreed are Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Hapag-Lloyd and AIDA.

--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor