The Carnival Elation discharged “gray water” while docked at Port Canaveral yesterday morning, according to the Florida Today publication.

Twenty-two metric tons of gray water (over 6,000 gallons) were spilled, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Carnival and the Port Downplay the Pollution

The newspaper suggested that “a valve was inadvertently opened” during ballast operations. Carnival’s PR department released a press statement yesterday afternoon, stating “while Carnival Elation was offloading water from its ballast systems, which helps balance the ship for navigational purposes, a gray water valve was inadvertently opened, discharging treated gray water from the plumbing and shower systems for a short period. No sewage was offloaded.”

The port’s director of communications and public affairs, Steven Linden, also down-played the incident. According to Florida Today, he said that it was only “grey water, and no human waste or anything biological. The majority of the discharge is just water, and not a threat to the environment or wildlife.”

The Truth About Grey Water

The truth of the matter, or course, is that grey water often contains harmful chemicals, detergents, pathogens, bacteria, metals, food items and nutrients. The Ocean Conservancy reports that grey water can “lead to oxygen depletion, spread pathogenic bacteria and viruses and increase nutrient levels in the surrounding ecosystem. Higher nutrient levels can lead to toxic algal blooms and dead zones that can cause harmful disturbances throughout food chains.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that untreated gray water has similar characteristics to domestic sewage, and fecal coliform concentrations in untreated vessel gray water are one to three times higher than untreated domestic wastewater.

Carnival Files Quarterly Pollution Report and TPA Audit Findings Revealing Other Grey Water Discharges

A couple of days ago, Carnival Corporation recently filed its “December 31, 2019 Quarterly Issue Tracker and its response to the TPA (Third Party Auditor) Final Audit Findings (Major Non-Conformities)” in the criminal pollution case where it remains on probation (case no. 16-20897 – Judge Seitz). In these documents, Carnival discusses its discharges of grey water from a number of Carnival-owned cruise ships and its “corrective and preventative action plan:”

  • June 2018 – Queen Mary 2, in Phuket, Thailand- a grey water tank overflowed directly overboard for approximately five minutes after ship employees were distracted by numerous alarms sounding which were unrelated to the grew water tank.
  • August 2019 – Carnival Paradise, at anchor in Grand Cayman – grey water overflowed for five minutes during an internal grey water transfer.
  • September 2019 – Carnival Imagination – heading to Long Beach, California when 50 liters of grey water overflowed when the line became clogged with food particles washed into a drain from the pizza galley.

Holland America Line’s Westerdam discharged over 22,000 gallons of grey water into Glacier Bay National Park in September of 2018. Details of the illegal dumping are contained in the Alaskan Notice of Violation. The notice claims that the discharge was a “mistake,” but the discharge continued on for 25 minutes.

Other Illegal Discharges From Carnival Owned Ships

The court filings also discussed a dozen incidents in the last year where Carnival owned ships illegally discharged black water / sewage /permeate overboard, as well as another dozen incidents when Carnival ships discharged chlorine water overboard in a wide variety of swimming pool and jacuzzi incidents.

The vast majority of the non-conformities involved many dozens of incidents when non-food items, including plastics, were found in food bins and tanks ready to be discharged into the water.

Over the next few days, we will discuss these incidents, as well as other incidents where Carnival ships illegally discharged bilge / ballast water, oil, and chemicals overboard.

$60,000,000 In Criminal Fines In Just 3 Years

Carnival Corporation has been fined over $60,000,000 in the last three years for widespread illegal oil pollution and discharge of grey water, oily bilge water, chemicals, and plastic items mixed together with food waste and garbage.

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