The U.S. Department of Justice just slapped a $20 million fine on Carnival Cruise Lines for not abiding by the terms of its probation for environmental violations. Three years ago, the company was in trouble because its subsidiary, Princess Cruises, was caught illegally dumping contaminated waste at sea and then covering it up by falsifying records.
At that time, Carnival was assessed a $40 million penalty. In addition, the company was required to abide by certain procedures. These included allowing inspections to ensure the practice of illegal dumping stopped, and that all records kept related to the release of waste products at sea were accurate. Since then, the company has been caught in new instances of illegal dumping as well as attempts to affect the occurrence and outcome of inspections. Carnival Cruise Lines admitted to these new probation violations in federal court in early June.
Carnival Works to Resolve the Issue
In its attempts to address the violations, Carnival Cruise Lines has reached an agreement with Justice officials. The terms of the agreement include new measures to ensure compliance with environmental rules and regulations as well as the creation of greater waste reduction processes. In a prepared statement, Carnival Cruise Lines said, “The Court approved our agreement with the Department of Justice — setting forth new initiatives, improved procedures, additional training and significant investments to ensure we have the strongest and most sustainable environmental compliance program possible.”
The federal judge overseeing the case has demanded the appearance of top Carnival Cruise Lines leadership in court on Monday, June 10.
Carnival Not the Only One?
Unfortunately, industry experts say that Carnival Cruise Lines’s actions aren’t surprising. It’s believed that several cruise companies regularly violate environmental regulations designed to protect sea life and ocean health, aside from the ones already known about in expert Ross Klein’s database. There is an international agreement in place, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (also called MARPOL), but enforcing it is another matter. Until then, a patchwork collection of national governments oversee and manage environmental regulation of the cruise ship industry as best they can.
What You Can Do
Cruise ship passengers who want to take action can contact their cruise ship company’s headquarters and ask about its environmental department or environmental compliance office. While letters, phone calls, emails, and tweets might not seem like they’re making an impact, if enough cruise ship passengers demand accountability, companies may be more likely to adhere to established environmental rules and follow through more effectively when violations are documented.