The Sunday Times of London published a disturbing story today regarding paint used on cruise ships and other vessels which could leach into the ship’s water tanks.  The newspaper reports that the potable water supplies may have been contaminated and posed a cancer risk to thousands of cruise passengers.  

The paint could leach the toxin acrylonitrile, described as a tumor-causing probable carcinogen, Acrylonitrile - Cruise Ship Waterinto the cruise ship’s drinking water. 

After an inspector, Brian Bradford, discovered the problem with the paint, the paint manufacturer, Danish corporation Hempel, successfully sought an injunction against Mr. Bradford to keep him quite.    

The New York Post picked up the story today, and published an article "Cancer Scare Over Cruise Ships’ Suspect H2O."  The Post refers to the Sunday Times "bombshell report" and raises the alarming question whether "thousands of New Yorkers may have been exposed to cancer-causing drinking water aboard a flotilla of luxury cruise liners." 

The Post refers to a "defective paint"  used inside water tanks on many ships, some owned by cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line as well as other companies.

The articles report that Hempel managed to keep the danger secret due to a "super-injunction" which effectively gagged Mr. Bradford from blowing the whistle on the paint manufacturer and the cruise lines.  The articles state that Mr. Bradford was a paint inspector who was overseeing the repainting of water tanks on the Norwegian Dawn and the Norwegian Star. 

Cruise Water Gag OrderThe Post states that "Bradford discovered a black residue on tanks, told Norwegian Cruise Line about it, and was axed."  Mr. Bradford remains muzzled for speaking out about the danger, but the Sunday Times apparently is not bound by the injunction.   

Norwegian Cruise Line issued a statement, claiming that: “the drinking water on Norwegian Star and Norwegian Dawn has always been and remains safe.”

We reported on the problem with the allegedly toxic cruise ship water last March in our article Did Cruise Industry Hide Evidence of Toxic Water Tanks?   Our article was based on an article which was published in the Telegraph in London.  At that time we raised the issue of what cruise ships had the Hempel paint and which cruise lines knew of the problem.  

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein also published an interesting editorial on this problem – Is Drinking Water Safe on Cruise Ships?  

It’s interesting to see the London based newspapers taking the lead reporting on such a public hazard involving the cruise industry based here in Miami. 

When will the major U.S. media focus on this important story?

 

Photo credit:  Top – heraldsun.com.au

The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. contains an interesting story today about the use of gag orders by large corporations in England to prevent the public from learning of potential safety hazards.     

Called "hyper-injunctions," the gag orders are used to protect a corporation’s reputation by barring an individual from discussing embarrassing information which may affect a corporation’s business and legal interests.  

Cruise Ship Water Tank - Potable Water - Toxic?The newspaper reports that  a hyper-injunction was obtained at the High Court in 2006 which prevented an individual from "saying that paint used in water tanks on passenger ships could break down and release potentially toxic chemicals." 

The injunction barred the person from discussing the case with members of Parliament, journalists and lawyers, along with the US Coast Guard and any ship owners, and also forbids any speculation linking chemicals in the paint with the illness of any individuals.

According to the Telegraph, the unidentified individual was given a two-week suspended sentence after talking to a lawyer about whether he would take the case.  A U.K. politician commented on the situation saying: 

"What we have, therefore, is passenger vessels trundling around the world with potentially toxic substances being released into the tanks.  One of those who worked on the tanks collapsed as a result.

From a health and safety point of view, we want to think that the water we are drinking is safe and that it will not cause health problems.  The difficulty in this case is that we do not know.

What we do know is that corporations used the massive force of the law to gag an individual and truss him up so much that he could not really challenge the process."

The article does not mention who obtained the gag order.  Did a cruise line use the "hyper-injunction" to suppress information from a former employee?

Does anyone have information about this?  Please leave a comment below.

November 13, 2011 Update:  Looks like NCL and Royal Caribbean cruise ships contained the paint in question.  The terminated paint inspector was Brian Bradford.  You can read about the new information here.