"Most Wanted" for Cruise Ship Pollution: Royal Caribbean Chief Engineer Michael Psomadakis - But Is He Really The Only Culprit?
Do you know this former Royal Caribbean crew member?
He's on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s "Most Wanted" List. Here's the story:
In 1993, Michael Evangelos Psomadakis was the chief engineer aboard RCCL's Nordic Empress cruise ship which routinely discharged oil into the water. But the Nordic Empress was no island to itself. RCCL's fleet of ships was regularly dumping pollutants from Biscayne Bay here in Miami to the pristine waters in Alaska.
The pollution was right outside of the cruise executives' offices at the port of Miami all of the way to Alaska and back. I can't imagine the abuse of the waters in Europe, Africa, and South America.
There were many Psomadakis's throughout the RCCL fleet of cruise ships.
Psomadakis - like his employer Royal Caribbean - lied to the Coast Guard about the pollution. A big mistake. This was no Bush administration with its let's-trust-the-big-corporations-and-look-the-other-way mentality. The U.S. justice system, under the leadership of environmentalist Janet Reno, investigated Royal Caribbean and discovered that many RCCL cruise ships were dumping oil & chemicals throughout their routes. A nasty business. Ms. Reno caught the Royal Caribbean bad boys under the corporate leadership of CEO Richard Fain, who claimed to know nothing, with their proverbial pants down.
Attorney General Reno slammed the cruise line, calling the cruise line "flim-flam" artists. She oversaw the imposition of penalties totaling $27,000,000 for engaging in a "fleet wide conspiracy . . . to save millions of dollars by dumping oily waste into the ocean," according to the the New York Times.
The case was prosecuted here in U.S. courts even though the cruise line claimed that the U.S. had no authority because the company was registered in Liberia and the cruise ship flew a flag of convenience in Liberia (and Liberia had already dismissed the case of course).
Psomadakis escaped FBI agents at a Miami hotel "simply by walking out another exit," as reported by the New York Times. He got away from the FBI and made it back to back to Greece all by himself?
At the end of the day, Royal Caribbean admitted it was a corporate felon, no only for the illegal discharges but for systematically lying to the Coast Guard and Attorney General's office for years. The New York Times article covered the story.
If you are interested in what the environment would be like without the U.S. government regulating a renegade Liberian-incorporated-corporation like Royal Caribbean, take a read of the New York Times article here.
The problem was that Royal Caribbean didn't change it's ways. After the first two million-dollar-fines, Royal Caribbean continued to illegally discharge oil, waste and fecal matter everywhere. The illegal discharges even increased, reflecting the arrogance of the Liberian holier-than-thou corporation. The cruise line responded with a bogus marketing campaign claiming that it was an environmental steward of the seas. It adopted a PR campaign that it was "Saving the Waves" (see photo) by encouraging its employees (and guests) not to throw any garbage overboard.
But while the crew members wore their "Save the Waves" buttons above deck and served passengers cocktails, Royal Caribbean engineers below the decks fabricated secret by-pass values to dump everything from raw sewage to chemicals used in the photography labs directly into the ocean. Do you really believe that the cruise executives didn't know?
Fifteen years later, CEO Fain and President Goldstein are still at the helm of the cruise line. Fall guy Psomadakis is on the lam. Yeah, an engineer from Greece is the real culprit behind the wide spread fleet-wide dumping and defiance of the U.S government.
The most recent news from this cruise lines? Royal Caribbean will soon deliver us another ostentatious, Oasis-class, bunker-fuel burning, polluting, gigantic cruise ship, ordered by the least environmentally friendly, flim-flam cruise line in the industry.