Did Splendor of the Seas or Other Cruise Ships Dump Sewage Near Turtle Beach in Brazil?

A reader of Cruise News in Brazil sent us an article from a Brazilian newspaper indicating that swimmers (including children) at a public beach near Búzios City, Brazil reported to the hospital with irritated eyes, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems.

The beach is called Praia da Tartaruga (Turtle Beach).

According to the newspaper Globo, public environmental officials in Brazil reportedly believe that the health problems may have been caused by discharge from one of three cruise ships in the area.

Samples were taken from the three cruise ships which called on the city of Búzios (north of Rio de Splendor of the Seas BrazilJaneiro) to compare them with contaminated water collected at the public beach. 

The three cruise ships have not been identified. However, the newspaper contains a photograph of the Royal Caribbean Splendor of the Seas. The newspaper indicates that the aerial photograph was taken by Secretary of State for Environment, Indio da Costa. Discolored water was observed around the cruise ship. The Brazilian official is quoted saying (translated):

"Still can not know what contaminated water, but we are almost certain that the problem was caused by the release of untreated sewage or treated irregularly by one of the ships docked in Buzios." 

The health authorities closed the beach due to the polluted water. 

The newspaper states that fines for polluting the waters of Brazil can reach $50 million, according to Brazil's Secretary of State for Environment.

The Brazilian cruise organization denied that the polluted water came from cruise ships. It said that the cruise companies comply with the guidelines a set by the MARPOL Convention (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships). 

It is unknown to us whether the Sovereign of the Seas or any other cruise ships were dumping anything in the Brazilian waters, or whether the discolored water around the Sovereign as shown in the photographs is attributable to silt being churned up by the ship's engines, the decomposition of algae or some other explanation. 

The test results are expected to be ready by Wednesday. We will identify the other cruise ships in the area as soon as we obtain this information.

We recently discussed an incident involving a MSC cruise ship which reportedly was caught dumping black garbage bags off the coast of Brazil near a marine sanctuary, after making a transatlantic crossing. A cruise passenger videotaped the dumpingSplendor of the Seas Brazil

 Photos Credit: Indio da Costa, Secretary of Environment from the State of Rio de Janeiro via Globo.com

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Comments (11) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Heather everitt - February 23, 2014 6:26 PM

I think sovereign of the seas was mistakenly named in the article

Adeline - February 23, 2014 7:38 PM

It can't be unpunished...

Tom - February 23, 2014 9:52 PM

I am pretty sure that is just caused by the movement of the ship. If you look at the picture you can clearly see that the propellers were in action,
repositioning the ship. This is pretty common when ships are anchored to make sure the ships stays in one place. Most likely that is just sand getting kicked up from the bottom.. very common when ships are close to shore. Also, I think if they were going to dumb it would be miles away where no one could see... not right next to a port.

Leo - February 23, 2014 10:09 PM

The picture shown was taken by the Secretary of Environment himself, and according to the interview in portuguese (my native langage), the smell was very unpleasant near there waters. 60 tourists reported to local hospitals after bathing in one of the beaches with breathing difficulties and G.I. sympthoms.

Full report here: http://t.co/iRXjaQmIes

Hans Dekker - February 23, 2014 10:19 PM

This is sensational!
The photo only shows propwash surrounding this vessel.

ARH - February 24, 2014 11:00 AM

I am in Buzios and whatever ship it was, more than one beach affected. The hospital here is a public facility and like most Brazilian hospitals outside of major cities, it is certainly not equipped to handle any type of onslaught like this. Most everyone has been sent home on meds. Keep in mind this did not occur today (24 Feb), but over the past 5-6 days, so the ship in question would have been here last week. There are reports of arrests today, but in the local news here no specific ship or cruise line is named. This is also the week before Carnival so many people that were planning to come cancelled their plans which will have some form of economic impact on the area (in addition to those who left in a hurry last week unsure of the cause). If it indeed was a ship, my hope is that the penalties are enormous in order to get their attention.

Jim Walker - February 24, 2014 1:32 PM

Dear ARH:

Thanks for your comments. Please send us links to any on line newspapers articles from Brazil. We would like to see how this turns out. Jim Walker

K. Glick - February 24, 2014 3:03 PM

And the hits just keep on coming.

All the cruise industry needs at this point is another negative story about people getting sick because of one or more cruise ships not following proper procedure.

Mick - February 25, 2014 5:20 AM

This is clearly not illegal dumping. The ship is in dynamic positioning mode as it is tendering. It is merely dirt from the sea bed being moved when the bow thrusters and stern thrusters are operating. You can even see the aerated water at the aft of the ship caused by propeller movement. You also see at the front of the ship some dirt in the water confirming the thrusters are the culprits.
Also on board these ships they have strict environmental policies which are adhered to. They also use an AWP Advanced Wastewater Purification system which produces the cleanest possible discharge. It is near impossible for this to be illegal dumping. Trust me I know.

Armando Rozario - February 26, 2014 7:43 PM

What a shame ! The captain of the ship should be tried in court and put to jail. A heavy fine must be imposed on these criminals ! - Armando Rozario - February 26, 2014.

Nathan Baker - March 2, 2014 10:08 PM

Much as I hate cruise ships, as a mariner I must admit that this appears to be bottom sediment kicked up by dynamic positioning. Hard to believe the bow thrusters would kick up silt though unless they had very very little water under them. Might explain why they didn't anchor. But then there is the polluted beach.

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