The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued air quality violations to eight cruise ships and water quality violations to nine cruise ships last week, according to the Juneau Empire.

In an article by Kevin Gullufsen, the newspaper reported that four Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ships, two Princess Cruises ships, and one cruise ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and one ship operated by Royal Caribbean violated Alaska’s air quality standards throughout the cruise season’s summer months (June-August).

Alaska’s DEC cited HAL’s Eurodam, Westerdam, Amsterdam, and Nieuw Amsterdam; Princess’ Emerald Princess and Golden Princess; NCL’s Norwegian Jewel; and Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas (which was cited twice).

Last year, the DEC determined that NCL’s Norwegian Jewel and HAL’s Amsterdam violated Alaska’s air standards.

The violations reportedly could result in fines as high as $46,192 per cruise ship.

The manager of Alaska’s cruise ship emissions monitoring program told the Juneau Empire that: “opacity is an indicator for overall air quality. So there are things that could be in the emissions. Things like nitrogen oxides or particulates. Things that can be breathed in and can potentially cause some health effects.”

Just last week in another article by Kevin Gullufsen, the Juneau Empire reported that “exhaust emissions poured from the Norwegian Pearl’s exhaust stack” as the NCL cruise ship was docking in Alaksa. The DEC has not yet announced whether the Norwegian Pearl violated Alaska’s air quality standards.

A few days later, a Canadian resident filmed the same NCL cruise ship spewing emissions in Victoria and posted the film on Twitter, which you can see below.

The DEC also found that nine cruise ships violated Alaska’s water quality standards this summer, according to the Juneau Empire.

Five Princess cruise ships violated water quality standards, including the Emerald Princess, Island Princess, Golden Princess, Ruby Princess and Star Princess.  The Star Princess and the Emerald Princess violated the water standards twice.

The DEC also issued wastewater discharge violations to HAL’s Eurodam, Noordam, and Voledam, as well as Seabourn Cruise Line’s Sojourn.

A month ago, we reported that Princess Cruises’ Star Princess recently discharged sludge from its exhaust system scrubbers in the port of Ketchikan, according to the city of Ketchikan. The discharge was originally reported by KRBD Community Radio. KRBD reported the Star Princess’ discharge and a similar discharge from the Golden Princess while the ship was in Ketchikan.

As shown by photographs (above and on our Facebook page, courtesy of the city of Ketchikan), the sludge polluted the waters of Ketchikan and fouled the port facilities where the Princess cruise ship were berthed. The DEC has not yet announced that these particular discharges violated Alaska’s water standards.

Princess denied the reports, claiming that “our experts believe what was viewed and photographed is most likely sea foam discolored by natural microorganisms such as algae in the seawater, which is commonly experienced in northern climates in the summer season.”

Alaska cited two cruise ships operated by Princess Cruises for violating both air and water standards – the Emerald Princess and Golden Princess.

The air violations by HAL, Princess and Royal Caribbean and the water violations by HAL and Princess all involved pollution by cruise lines which have pleaded guilty to environmental violations and lying to the U.S Coast Guard. Princess was the latest cruise line to have pleaded guilty to such crimes and lying to federal agencies, resulting in a fine of $40,000,000.  Federal prosecutors found that the Star Princess and the Golden Princess were in the middle of Princess’ widespread, ongoing schemes to pollute and lie about it.

Princess appears to be in direct violation of the guilty plea agreement (where it promised not to commit further violations of international, federal, state, or local environmental laws) which it entered into with the federal government in December of 2016. Whether the federal government does anything about Princess’ continuing pattern of pollution is another matter.

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September 13, 2018 Update: Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation stated today that the DEC issued wastewater citations to HAL for “unauthorized discharge of untreated graywater” from the Noordam. It cited Princess Cruises for “unauthorized discharge of treated graywater” from the Star  Princess.  The DEC’s notices of violations issued for water standards were all related to unauthorized untreated graywater or treated mixed graywater and sewage, in violations of Alaska’s wastewater discharge permit. These are not for scrubber washwater discharges.

Photo credits: Top – Norwegian Pearl in Juneau / Photo credit Tim Olson / KTOO Public Radio; middle – city of Ketchikan via KRBD Community Radio.

Local residents in Juneau recently lodged numerous complaints about exhaust emissions which belched into the air from the Norwegian Pearl to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in Alaska, according to a newspaper in Juneau.

The Juneau Empire reported that on Tuesday “exhaust emissions poured from the Norwegian Pearl’s exhaust stack” as the NCL cruise ship Pearl began to dock at around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, maneuvering into position after the Norwegian Bliss left the dock around this time.

The newspaper stated that it took a 45-minute video of the pollution, which was compressed into a video time lapse. The video (shown below) “shows the Pearl emitting nearly-opaque exhaust for much of the video.”

The newspaper explains that based on EPA guidelines, “air quality violations are based on percentage of opacity, where 0 percent means emissions are see through, while 100 percent opacity means one can’t see through it.” Ships are allowed to exceed 20 percent opacity for three minutes an hour while at the dock. When casting off, anchoring and docking, ship exhausts are only allowed to exceed 40 percent opacity for nine minutes out of an hour.”

The Juneau Empire reports that Ed White, who runs the Commercial Passenger Vessel Environmental Compliance program, “couldn’t comment on whether DEC was in the process of issuing a fine to the Norwegian Pearl as he’s not allowed to comment on ongoing compliance issues.”

Early last month, Princess Cruises’ Star Princess cruise ship discharged sludge from its exhaust system scrubbers in the port of Ketchikan, according to the city of Ketchikan.

Scrubber systems are increasingly being used on cruise ships in order to reduce sulfur particles and engine exhaust particulates.  Petroleum-based, non-combustible particulate matter accumulates as toxic sludge during the water-scrubbing process, and must eventually be removed from the ships and should be disposed of properly in certified facilities ashore. Many cruise ships often discharge the sludge into the ocean, while they are underway or even at port, rather than properly disposing of the sludge in facilities ashore.

Photographs shown on our Facebook page, courtesy of the city of Ketchikan, show that the sludge polluted the waters of Ketchikan and fouled the port facilities where the Princess cruise ship was berthed.  Princess responded to new reports of the discharge by making the farcical claim that the sludge was “most likely sea foam discolored by natural microorganisms such as algae in the seawater, which is commonly experienced in northern climates in the summer season.”

There has been a long history of cruise ships violating the air and water standards of Alaska, which we have written about ever since we started this blog nine years ago. See our article three years ago – Alaska Alleges Cruise Lines Violated Air Emission Laws (photo below).

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September 9, 2018 Update: The Pearl was observed continuing to spew emissions at port in Victoria.

Photo Credit:  Top – Norwegian Pearl– Michael Penn / Juneau Empire; Bottom – Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas cruise ship – AlaskanLibrarian’s Flickr photostream. Video Credit – Juneau Empire.

Princess Cruises’ Star Princess cruise ship recently discharged sludge from its exhaust system scrubbers in the port of Ketchikan, according to the city of Ketchikan, as originally reported by  KRBD Community Radio. KRBD also reports that the city received complaints by the public of an earlier similar discharge from the Golden Princess while in Ketchikan.

As shown by photographs (above and on our Facebook page, courtesy of the city of Ketchikan), the sludge polluted the waters of Ketchikan and fouled the port facilities where the Princess cruise ship were berthed.  According to communications between administrators in the city of Ketchikan, a local Alaskan resident reportedly voiced her serious concerns over cruise ship discharges in port were in port and the resulting fouling of beaches.

The city of Ketchikan concluded that the recent incidents of discharges appeared to be from cruise ship exhaust gas scrubbers and not from wastewater. The city identified several photographs of discharges observed by local port personnel coming from the Star Princess on July 23, 2018 while the cruise ship was at berth no. 4 in Ketchikan.  The city notified the ship which turned off its exhaust gas scrubber system.

The city of Ketchikan notified the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) which reportedly are both investigating the incidents.

Scrubber systems are increasingly being used on cruise ships in order to reduce sulfur particles and engine exhaust particulates.  Petroleum-based. non-combustible particulate matter accumulates as sludge, during the water-scrubbing process, and must eventually be removed from the ships. Many cruise ships simply discharge the sludge into the water, while they are underway or even at port, rather than properly disposing the sludge in facilities ashore.

According to the Ports and Harbors personnel in Ketchikan and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), such untreated discharges are not permitted by state water quality standards within Alaska’s local waters, although they apparently are permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Cruise lines claim that they exceed all applicable local, state, national and international environmental regulations. But this does not appear to be true. A representative of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) recently argued that the cruise industry would never dump the sludge overboard, irrespective of  whether regulations permit such discharges, where the particulate matter and sulfur sludge obviously would pollute the water and foul the local beaches.

According to data prepared by the ADEC, as many as 23 large cruise ships (with anywhere from one to four scrubbers systems each) are calling on ports in Alaska in 2018. There is concern of widespread discharges of sludge into the Alaskan ports. Other ports in locations outside of Alaska, where low-sulfur fuel is required, will also likely see cruise ships discharging scrubber sludge at sea and in local waters.

The Star Princess and Caribbean Princess were two of several Princess cruise ships implicated in Princess’ widespread and long term discharge of oily substances over a period of nearly a decade. The Caribbean Princess secretly used an illegal “magic pipe” to bypass pollution control devices and discharge oily substances directly into the water, rather than properly offload the waste in port.

The Star Princess used illegal practices such as opening a salt water valve when bilge waste was being processed by the oily water separator and oil content monitor. The purpose was to prevent the oil content monitor from otherwise alarming and stopping the overboard discharge.  The second practice involved discharges of oily bilge water originating from the overflow of graywater tanks into the machinery space bilges. This waste was pumped back into the graywater system rather than being processed as oily bilge waste. Neither of these practices were truthfully recorded in the ship’s oil record book as required by law. All of this was designed to save the cruise line money.

As we explained in our article at the time titled Deliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000  the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) levied the largest fine in cruise line history against Princess and its parent company, Carnival Corporation, for polluting and lying about it to the Coast Guard. The DOJ indicated that a perceived motive for the environmental crimes was financial – “the chief engineer that ordered the dumping off the coast of England told subordinate engineers that it cost too much to properly offload the waste in port and that the shore-side superintendent who he reported to would not want to pay the expense.”

The DOJ stated that “Princess engineers on the Caribbean Princess indicated that the chief engineer responsible for the discharge on August 26, 2013, was known as “braccino corto” (a person with short arms), an Italian expression for a cheap person whose arms are too short to reach his wallet. Some expressed the same opinion of the shore-side superintendent.”

As part of guilty plea agreement, Princess and Carnival promised not to commit further violation of either the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) or any state or local environmental laws. They further promised to comply with a Court approved Environmental Compliance Plan which required these cruise lines to strictly comply with all international, state and local environmental laws and regulations regarding water pollution.

Princess Cruises’ discharge of the toxic sludge of scrubber operations into the waters of Alaska seems to violate existing Alaskan water  regulations, according to the City of Ketchikan. In my opinion, Princess violated the terms and the spirit of the 2016 pollution plea agreement in the process. Princess will continue to violate the agreement and the compliance plan every time it discharges the sludge at sea or in port.

Photographs of the nasty sludge dumped at the port while the Star Princess was at berth in Ketchikan makes a mockery of Princess’ promise to be a good steward of the marine environment.

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Photo credit: Scrubber sludge – Star Princess – City of Ketchikan.

August 28, 2018 Update: Travel Weekly covers the story with No Clear Solution for Disposing of Sludge Produced By Scrubbers, in which Princess claims that “our experts believe what was viewed and photographed is most likely sea foam discolored by natural microorganisms such as algae in the seawater, which is commonly experienced in northern climates in the summer season.” Travel Weekly reports that cruise ship scrubbers on cruises to Alaska “produce a surprising amount of waste: An average seven-day cruise on a big ship can yield two to five tons of scrubber sludge, said Brian Salerno, senior vice president for maritime policy at CLIA.”

A pastor from North Las Vegas was killed on Monday, July 30th in a canoe excursion accident during a cruise to Alaska, according to several news sources.

50-year-old Steven Todd Willis and his wife were reportedly on a cruise to Alaska celebrating the first anniversary of their marriage.

The news accounts state that an excursion company was taking, what has been reported to be, between nine and eleven passengers on a canoe tour when their canoe overturned in rapids.  Four people were reportedly reported missing.

The incident occurred nine miles south of Haines. The first news account states that the canoe was being used for a guided tour for passengers from three different unidentified cruise ships.

One news account reports that one of the passengers was unresponsive at the scene. First responders reportedly performed CPR, but the passenger remained unconscious. Another account states that the passenger had sunk in deep water and could not be retrieved.

A third account states that the Coast Guard dispatched a Jayhawk helicopter from Sitka to search for the missing members of the tout.  A Coast Guard crew reportedly pulled the body of  Mr. Willis from the Davidson Glacier River, according to KTNV News.

KTNV states that “everyone on board wore life jackets.”

The owner of the excursion company, identified as AlaskaX Excursions, told the Skagway News that he has been cooperating with the authorities involved and will be conducting an investigation into the fatality.

KHNS FM reports that this excursion company “employs about 20 people year-round and 150 seasonal guides, running five tours around Haines, Skagway, and Juneau. That includes a canoe tour at Glacier Point, where they boat up to 15,000 cruise passengers each summer from Skagway to where the Davidson Glacier calves into a lake.”

KHNS further states that, according to an Alaska assembly member,  “there have been specific, and credible, and very damning accounts” of the excursion company’s poor safety record, reportedly referring to a dozen former employees who have lodged complaints about the company’s operations.  “They say the company prioritizes profit over the safety of employees and guests.”

The news articles do not state which cruise ship Mr, Willis and his wife had taken to Alaska.

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Read:

One Dead, 10 Safe After Canoe Overturns Near Haines via Juneau Empire.

Safety Complaints From Former Employees Pile Up Against Skagway Tour Company. via KHNS FM.

 

 

A passenger from a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship has gone overboard in the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska, according to the National Parks Traveler nonprofit media organization.

The Park Service issued a press release Saturday night that it had suspended its search for the missing passenger who reportedly disappeared from the HAL Westerdam cruise ship late Friday afternoon.  According to the press release, the sixty-nine year-old man was reported missing at 3:50 p.m. on Friday when he did not appear for a medical appointment on board the ship, a park release said. It is unclear when the passenger actually went overboard. KTUU reports that the man went overboard sometime on Friday morning.

The Park Service was notified 7:30 Friday evening after a ship-wide search confirmed that the HAL Westerdampassenger was missing from the cruise ship.

The Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted searches via vessels and/or aircraft.

There is no information regarding exactly when or where along the 65-mile Glacier Bay the man went overboard.

This appears to be another situation where the cruise ship was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would immediately notify the bridge when a person went over the rails and then track the person in the water via radar and thermal imaging. The officers on the HAL cruise ship apparently had to order a search of the ship to look for the passenger. HAL has not released any public information regarding whether CCTV captured images of the man going overboard.

According to Canadian Professor Ross Klein, there have been 316 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 15 people have gone overboard during the first six and one-half months of this year. Nine people have gone overboard from HAL cruise ships in the last eight and one-half years.

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July 17, 2018 Update: The National Parks Traveler writes that the passenger went overboard around 6:45 AM, according to HAL PR executive Sally Andrews. This means that there was a delay of nearly 13 hours between the passenger going overboard and the cruise line finally notifying the park service (around 7:30 PM), which is another compelling reason why cruise ships should have automatic man overboard systems installed. I previously mentioned Ms. Andrews in an article many years ago titled “Suicide” – One of the Cruise Lines’ Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.

Photo credit: Roger Wollstadt CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

The Coast Guard in Alaska medevaced a 55-year-old cruise passenger from the Seven Seas Mariner cruise ship approximately 25 miles southeast of Montague Island in the Gulf of Alaska on Wednesday.

Air Station Kodiak dispatched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the cruise ship after Air Station Anchorage received a request from the master of the Regent cruise ship indicating that the woman was suffering from internal bleeding. The Coast Guard helicopter aircrew flew to the ship and safely hoisted the woman and transported her to emergency medical services personnel in Anchorage.

Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard District 17 (Air Station Kodiak) via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

NTSB Report Ketchikan Accident Celebrity InfinityThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of the Celebrity Infinity’s allision with a dock last year in Ketchkan, Alaska was the master’s failure to plan, monitor, and execute a safe docking maneuver.

You can read the NTSB report here. A photo from the NTSB report is to the left.

Last year, we reported on the allision in Alaska. As you can see in the video below, posted on YouTube by Maria Harvey, the cruise ship smashed into a dock at berth 3 in Ketchikan.

The NTSB concluded that bad weather played a factor in the mishap. The wind was gusts were as high as 50 mph. The master also admitted that he did not know that tug boats were available for assistance in the docking.

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Multiple news sources are reporting that the Grand Princess operated by Princess Cruises struck a humpback whale two days ago. The dead whale was discovered lodged on the cruise ship’s bulbous bow upon entering the port in Ketchikan, Alaska. 

Cruise ship-whale strikes are hardly uncommon. This latest incident is reportedly the second time in two years involving a whale strike caused by a cruise ship in Alaska; Holland America’s Zaandam struck an endangered fin whale last year and carried the dead whale into port in Seward on its bulbous bow. 

The Princess Cruises PR spokesperson claims that the Princess cruise ship did not spot any whales near the ship as it sailed toward Ketchikan. Princess also floated out the possibility that the whale was "already deceased before becoming lodged on the bow" – the usual PR spin when a cruise ship strikes a whale. 

A necrosis will later address whether the whale was in fact alive or dead at the time that the cruise ship struck it.

A cruise passenger sent photographs of the incident, one of which is below.  

Grand Princess Whale StrikeSeveral years ago, environmental groups filed a petition with the federal government seeking to force cruise ships and other large vessels to slow down in order to reduce the chances of whale strikes. The petition was focused on the waters between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but it signaled the importance of environmental groups concerned with marine life who share the oceans with super tankers and today’s increasingly larger cruise ships.

In one of the most graphic photographs of a cruise ship / whale strike, in 2009 the Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess arrived in port in Vancouver, unaware that the cruise ship impaled a fin whale on the ship’s bow while in Alaskan waters. The whale was a female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). Princess claimed that the whale was already dead when the cruise ship hit her.

Of those whale-strikes which are reported, it is quite unusual for the dead whale to be noticed only when it is brought into a port on the bow of a large ship as indicated on this comprehensive report published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service.

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August 11, 2017 Update: Meanwhile, Ottawa to force ships to slow down to prevent whale deaths in Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Royal Caribbean Alaska Air Pollution Violations Seatrade Cruise News reports that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises recently settled all claims related to alleged violations of the Alaska Marine Visible Emissions Standards that occurred over an earlier five-year period on certain ships.

Last year, we reported that the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued notices of violation to a number of cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, for a pollution violations over the past five years. In addition to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, NCL, Carnival, Holland America, Princess, and Silversea violated the Alaskan emission standards.

In its most recent annual report, Royal Caribbean stated that the cruise line had settled the claims pursuant to a compliance order by consent this month for an undisclosed amount. and performing certain remedial actions.

As we mentioned in our article last April, Alaska issued 18 notices of violation involving 48 instances of excessive air emissions against a host of cruise lines since 2010,. Each violation of law carries a fine of approximately $37,500.

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NCL - Norwegian DawnSeveral people have informed us that a NCL crew member went overboard yesterday from the Norwegian Pearl  during a cruise returning from Alaska.

The Norwegian Pearl is on an eight day “Glacier Bay cruise” which started on September 4, 2016 and ends on September 11th, in Seattle.

The woman reportedly was employed for two contracts for NCL.

This evening, the Juneau Empire published an article saying that a passenger went overboard from the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship in the Lynn Canal, according to an Alaska State Trooper spokesman. I believe this account to be in error as several NCL crew members indicate that the woman was a crew member and not a passenger.

The Sitka Sentinel reported that the woman was reported missing from the Norwegian Pearl at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday when she was noticed to be absent from her cabin. NCL security personnel later looked at CCTV which revealed that she had gone overboard while the vessel was under-way.

The Coast Guard in Sitka launched a helicopter and the station in Juneau launched the 45-foot Coast Guard Cutter Liberty yesterday.  These searches were reportedly suspended today.

The woman’s Facebook page this evening has many photographs and comments posted from her friends commemorating her life. Her friends describe her as a loved, cheerful and vibrant young woman.

We are withholding publishing her name, job position and her nationality pending confirmation that her family is aware of the situation.

Other NCL crew members have disappeared from cruise ships in the past couple of years.

A woman went overboard several days ago from the Carnival Ecstasy as it was sailing near the Bahamas during its return cruise to Charleston, South Carolina. The U.S. Coast Guard just ended it’s search today after a considerable effort for the past two days, and after considerable publicity.

This is the 277th person to go overboard from a cruise ship since 2000, according to cruise expert professor Ross Klein.

September 10 2016 Update: NCL crew members says that according to the ship’s security officer, they were looking for her all over the cruise ship when she couldn’t be located in her cabin. NCL sent out the rescue boat to search for her.  She apparently left a note in her cabin.

Public media KTOO reports provides this additional information: “The 25-year-old woman, identified only as a Columbian national, disappeared from the vessel about 1:40 a.m. Thursday while it was in Lynn Canal between Funter Bay and Point Retreat. It’s not clear if the woman jumped or simply fell overboard. The woman was not discovered as missing until 5 a.m. Thursday morning as the Norwegian Pearl was approaching Glacier Bay. Alaska State Troopers are investigating the incident.”

Photo Credit: By Captain-tucker – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.