The Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) attended a town hall type of meeting in Rockland, Maine last Friday, July 27th. Brian Salerno, CLIA’s Senior Vice President of Maritime Affairs, was tasked by CLIA to try and convince the local Rockland residents that cruise lines were respectful of Rockland’s environment.
I was not at the meeting but several people who were present at the City Hall Chambers asked me what I think about CLIA’s claim that it is committed to protecting the air and water in the locations where its member cruise ships sail and unload thousands of their guests.
My response is that cruise lines, the likes of Carnival, NCL or Royal Caribbean, can’t be trusted. After all, they are all, literally, corporate felons with histories of lying about environmental pollution to the Coast Guard and the ports where they do business.
History Has a Tendency to Repeat Itself
In 2002, Carnival pled guilty to numerous felonies for discharging oily waste into the sea. Carnival reportedly routinely falsified its oil record books in order to conceal its illegal practices. The U.S. Government leveled a $18,000,000 fine and placed Carnival on probation.
In 2002, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) also pled guilty to the felony of routinely circumventing its oily water separator, dumping oily bilge directly into the ocean on a regular basis, and falsifying its record keeping. NCL admitted that it engaged in a practice of “systematically lying to the United States Coast Guard over a period of years.” The DOJ issued a fine of only $1,500,000, primarily because NCL admitted its wrongdoing, rather than continuing to lie and scheme like Carnival.
Starting in the late 1990’s, the U.S. Coast Guard caught Royal Caribbean engaged in widespread dumping of oil and chemicals. The DOJ fined the cruise line $1,000,000. After Royal Caribbean was caught repeatedly illegally dumping oily discharges and chemicals and lying about it, the DOJ fined it $8,000,000 and then fined it an additional $18,000,000 for a total of $27,000,000.
Carnival’s subsidiary brands have not fared any better than the parent company. In 1998, Holland America Line was fined $2,000,000 after it was caught discharging oily water without the use of an oil-water separator. And of course more recently (in December of 2016), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) fined Carnival subsidiary Princess Cruises a record $40,000,000 for pollution and trying to cover it up.
You can also consider trusting an industry where cruise ships often use the oceans as a place to discard plastic rubbish bags, as shown in this video a concerned crew member sent me from a MSC cruise ship.
You Can’t Get Kicked Out of this Club
It is with this background, I am responding to several residents who asked me about Mr. Salerno’s claim, reported in the Penoscob Bay Pilot, that CLIA has the authority to expel members from the organization who do not abide by relevant environmental regulations.
But that’s hardly true. Consider the recent wide-spread pollution where Princess plead guilty to multiple felony charges of illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste from the Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess cruise ships which sailed to numerous U.S. states (Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) and two territories (U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico). According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Caribbean Princess had been illegally discharging oil since 2005 using bypass equipment, sometimes called a “magic pipe,” to circumvent pollution-prevention equipment that separates oil and monitors oil levels in the ship’s water.
You can read the disturbing facts and the cruise line’s decade-long deception in the article titles Deliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000.
If there ever were a compelling reason to oust a cruise line from CLIA, it was Princess’ outlandish pollution and even more outrageous lies and cover up. CLIA chose to do nothing.
How Do Cruise Lines Handle Sludge?
Mr. Salerno also claimed at the meeting in Rockland that all sludge from cruise ship smokestack scrubbers (designed to reduce emissions, primarily sulfur) is held onboard and offloaded ashore only at designated facilitates ashore. I know that the cruise industry previously discharged the sludge at sea, a nasty practice which substantially increases the presence of carbon dioxide. And I have a hard time believing that the cruise lines would have changed their practice without there being a law requiring it.
I would like to hear from crew members with knowledge regarding this issue. Perhaps an environmental officer can communicate with me. We promise to keep all such communications with concerned employees confidential.
How do the cruise ships really handle sludge?
It seems that the good people of Rockland deserve a straight-forward response.
Interested in this issue? We suggest reading: Royal Caribbean Treats Rockland Like a $1 Store.
Photo credit: Reproduced from an original postcard published by the Hugh C. Leighton Company, Portland, Maine, Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.