A week ago we posted an article which showed the Carnival Victory belching thick black smoke into the air while it was still moored at the Princess George wharf in Nassau.
Carnival was also recently caught illegally burning heavy fuel oil in protected areas on 19 occasions, according to the Miami Herald. The Herald has consistently covered the DOJ’s investigation into the environmental record of the cruise giant which has resulted in $60,000,000 in fines in the last three years.
Carnival also admitted that in July of 2017, the Carnival Pride ship dumped 15 pounds of food waste into Half Moon Cay, the company’s private island used as a beach for cruise passengers. The DOJ’s investigation revealed that the Carnival ships often discharge large quantities of plastic items mixed with trash and garbage, in Bahamian waters among other locations. The Miami Herald also reported that the majority of the 500,000 gallons of treated sewage illegally dumped from Carnival owned ships occurred in Bahamian waters.
The majority of treated sewage — 500,000 gallons — & food waste was dumped in Bahamian waters.
In one July 2017 instance, the Carnival Pride ship dumped 15 pounds of food waste into Half Moon Cay, the company’s private island used as a beach for cruise passengers. pic.twitter.com/FwTODvZGdM
— Taylor Dolven (@taydolven) April 16, 2019
A resident of Nassau posted a comment to my article showing the Carnival Victory spewing heavy smoke over the port and downtown Nassau, asking “Can Carnival just stop bringing their floating toilets to our country please?”
Four months ago, the Bahamas’ Minister of Transport said that the government will allegedly undertake a “comprehensive” review into the “disturbing” report regarding the discharge of plastic items from Carnival ships. The Miami Herald mentioned that the minister issued a statement that “as the port and coastal state in which the violations may have occurred, the Bahamas will investigate and take measures as appropriate.” There is no indication that such an investigation has taken place to date. It remains to be seen whether the Bahamian government will conduct any genuine investigation into Carnival’s bad behaviour, but there is considerable evidence already that Carnival’s malfeasance has already inflicted substantial damage on the Bahamas.
The U.S. Government’s Quarterly Status Report, dated April 8, 2019, states that the Carnival Elation, which was regularly sailing from Jacksonville to numerous locations in the Bahamas, including Nassau, Freeport and Princess Cay, “knowingly and deliberately” discharged plastic items from the ship, which it characterized as “one of the most significant violations of probation.” That constitutes a clear violation of MARPOL Annex V and is a potential felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. The government auditor on the Elation informed the Carnival environmental officer that “plastic and other non-food items were mixed with the vessel’s food waste and that the garbage was not being properly segregated.” However, Carnival reportedly took no remedial measures and subsequently discharged the waste with the knowledge that it contained plastic waste. (This is undisputed by Carnival).
The Government explained to the court overseeing its probation that plastic pollution is likely the “most widespread pollution event adversely impacting the marine environment. The adverse impact is extensive and tragic. Virtually all species of marine wildlife, many of which are threatened or endangered, including seabirds, cetaceans (e.g., whales and dolphins), and sea turtles ingest plastic and then die of starvation because it clogs their stomachs. Plastic pollution in the ocean is of epidemic proportion and has the potential to threaten the health of the oceans, coral reefs, food safety and tourism.”
But Roger Frizzell, a spokesman for Carnival Corp., was quoted in the Miami Herald as claiming that “the dumping had no negative impact to marine life or people.”
The photograph above to the left shows a “food waste chute” on a Carnival ship with clumps of food mixed with plastic, silverware and bottle caps. The photo was sent to this office by a Carnival crew member who wishes to remain anonymous. The photo shows how food and non-food items are routinely mixed together and then thrown into the chute to be dumped into the water. The photo to the bottom right, showing plastic and waste items mixed together in a pulper system on a Carnival ship which dumped the waste in Bahamian waters, was filed by the U.S. Government in the pending pollution case filed against Carnival.
The Government also referred in its recent report to several other Carnival owned ships (the Carnival Conquest, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Magic, and Carnival Vista) which discharged plastic and other non-food items overboard in Bahamian waters. These governmental filings state that the items included “plastic straws, plastic knives, rubber bands, plastic corn on the cob holders, broken plastic cups, paper clips, aluminum bottle caps, aluminum foil wrappers,” and other items. The Government believes that Carnival’s problems remain “ongoing” and “systemic” in nature.
The filings by the Court Appointed Monitor (CAM) also discussed another incident in November 2018 when the Carnival Conquest unlawfully discharged approximately 66,000 gallons of ballast water in the waters of the Bahamas. A Carnival bridge officer reportedly offered to fabricate documents in order to cover up the illegality of the discharge by changing the time and location, so that it would appear to have been in an area where such discharges were allowed.
The Bahamas has a profound interest in protecting its air and water from such abuses by the cruise industry. But the Bahamas essentially has no mechanism to enforce international pollution laws when cruise ships pollute its waters, even when the ships are flying the flag of the Bahamas.
Complicating matters is the fact that Carnival is building what it describes as a $100-million mega cruise port in Grand Bahama, and the company “promised it would not hurt the island’s fragile environment,” according to the Nassau Tribune. Carnival is reportedly leasing 329 acres of Bahamian land in an area known as Sharp Rock in East Grand Bahama, which the newspaper describes as an “eco-sensitive zone.” The Tribune writes that Carnival executive Giora Israel (Carnival Corp.’s Senior Vice President of Global Port & Destination Development) said the company is allegedly “big on protecting the environment.” She promised that “Carnival would not harm the environment during the construction phase, and would preserve 110 acres as a natural wetland.” Motivating the Bahamas to enact and enforce Bahamian environment laws and regulations seems to be fraught with potential problems of politicians pandering to Carnival or other U.S. based cruise lines.
Disney Cruises, for example, is the latest cruise line to be given the green light by the Bahamas to proceed with developing Bahamian land and water, apparetnly with little environmental oversight. Disney plans to develop the southern portion of the island of Eleuthera into a private destination. Lighthouse Point will be turned from an undeveloped natural preserve into Disney’s private cruise port. There are concerns that the dock and pier planned by Disney for the area will require the island to be dredged.
The Bahamas is not requiring any revenue sharing with Disney. The Bahamas will not collect any income taxes or real property taxes which would would benefit the Bahamas. The Bahamas is about to lose one of its last unspoiled sites in exchange for Disney’s unenforceable promise that it may hire Bahamians in the future.
The Bahamas has already faced the indignity of having the Federal court here in Miami reject the motion to intervene in the pollution case filed on behalf of Fotini “Sam” Tsavousis Duncombe, who is the co-founder of a Bahamas Environmental group called “reEarth,” as well as other individuals and entities in Alaska affected by Carnival’s pollution. Ms. Duncombe represented the sentiments of the citizens of the Bahamas which received the brunt of the illegal discharges by Carnival into its waters when cruise ships dumped plastics, bottle caps, wood, aluminum and other garbage which had been mixed together with food items discharged via food chutes.
— Stand.earth (@standearth) July 31, 2019
Carnival executives promise that the cruise corporation will do better. Of course, Carnival has lied before, even before U.S. District Court judges overseeing their probation for widespread pollution. Carnival will likely get caught again engaging in dumping plastics, or oil, or untreated grey water, or untreated sewage, or sludge from its emissions scrubbers, or trash and garbage, in the pristine waters of the Bahamas, and it will likely lie again. The Bahamas should realize that it is dealing with what the federal district judge here in Miami presiding over the pollution case called a “recidivist criminal” which has continually engaged in world-wide pollution and repeatedly lied about it.
The U.S. courts have seemed reluctant to impose a meaningful fine to stop Carnival’s environmental recklessness, and have even refused to recognize a Bahamian citizen as a victim of Carnival’s malfeasance. Until a Bahamian court (and other courts in the Caribbean) imposes a stiff fine against this billion dollar giant, rather than just a minimal slap on the wrist like the U.S. courts have done, the Bahamas will remain a dumping ground where Carnival ships can discharge plastic waste in its beautiful waters and burn high sulfur bunker fuel in its beautiful skies with impunity.
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August 18, 2019 Update: Nassau Tribune: Insight: Are We Being Lulled To Sleep On Carnival’S Ocean Dumping?
Image credit: PTZtv – video of Carnival Victory; pulper system – Court Appointed Monitor; Carnival Elation and Half Moon Cay – Miami Herald via Twitter.