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.”

Last week, a senior vice president of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) spoke to the residents of Rockland, Maine, in an effort to try and convince them that cruise lines will be respectful of Rockland’s environment.

We wrote about the meeting in our article titled CLIA visits Rockland.

Several residents brought to my attention a claim made by Brian Salerno, CLIA’s Senior Vice President of Maritime Affairs, that the sludge from cruise ship smokestack scrubbers (designed to reduce emissions, primarily sulfur),  is stored onboard and offloaded, allegedly, only at facilitates ashore. He promised that the cruise industry would not dump the sludge overboard,  where the particulate matter and sulfur sludge obviously would pollute the water and foul the local beaches and port facilities.

The CLIA representative said that the cruise ship scrubber processing equipment “ultimately collects sludge” which “has to be disposed of properly ashore.”

You can hear Mr. Salermo make these precise statements to the Rockland residents here.

As I suspected, the CLIA representative’s comments appear to be patently false.

As cruise expert Professor Ross Klein points out on his CruiseJunkie site, a cruise ship recently (just last week) discharged scrubber sludge into the state waters of Alaska.  Professor Klein cites the recent article by KRBD Community Radio in Ketchikan, Alaska which reported that on July 23rd, port personnel from the City of Ketchikan observed discharge coming from the exhaust system scrubbers on the Star Princess cruise ship when it was at a berth in the port in Ketchikan.  This sludge discharge followed complaints by the public of an earlier discharge from the Golden Princess cruise ship. The city directed the ships to cease discharging scrubber processing waste while in port.

You can see a photograph of the sludge discharged in port here.

These actions directly contradict the statements by CLIA that it never discharges sludge from smokestack scrubbers into the water and, further, that CLIA cruise ships discharge nothing while a ship is in or near port.  Mr. Salerno made a point of claiming that cruise lines promise not only to comply with federal and international pollution regulations but they claim to always exceed these standards. He claimed that this is a mandatory CLIA requirement and a condition of membership in the cruise trade organization.

It should be noted that not only did cruise ships recently discharge scrubber sludge in the local waters of Alaska but the discharge occurred from cruise ships operated by Princess Cruises which was involved in prior incidents of widespread illegal discharges.  Princess of course, is the cruise line which illegally discharged oily waste from its fleet of cruise ships for nearly a decade and was fined $40,000,000 by the DOJ. (Princess Cruises, owned by parent company Carnival Corporation, of course, remains a member of CLIA).  The Star Princess and the Golden Princess (among other cruise ships operated by Princess) were both implicated in Princess’ notorious use of “magic pipes” to circumvent the oily water separator and oil content monitors in the required pollution prevention equipment.

The Port and Harbors director in Ketchikan informed KRBD that the discharge from scrubbers may technically be permitted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, although the discharge may have violated the state water quality regulations of Alaska.

CLIA made a big deal during its meeting with the residents of Rockland of stating that CLIA promised not only to comply with U.S. and international pollution standards but to never discharge anything within the state territorial waters where it sails its cruise ships.

This is reminiscent of an incident in 2003 when a cruise ship operated by Crystal Cruises dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay. Crystal had promised earlier not to foul the marine sanctuary’s waters.

According to the L.A. Times, Crystal said that it didn’t have to report the incident to authorities because it broke no laws. It is “perfectly legal” under maritime laws to discharge even untreated wastewater more than 12 miles offshore, and the ship was 14 miles offshore at the time, said a Crystal spokesperson, Mimi Weisband.

“We didn’t break any law,” Weisband said. “We did break a promise.”

The city of Monterey thereafter banned all Crystal cruise ships for life.

The residents of Rockland would be wise to learn a lesson from Monterey 15 years ago and from Ketchikan just last week.

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Photo credit: Crystal Harmony – rpieket – CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia; Scrubber sludge – City of Ketchikan.

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.

Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Multiple news sources are reporting that the Celebrity Infinity cruise ship allided with a dock in Ketchikan, Alaska  

As you can see in the video below, posted on YouTube by Maria Harvey, the cruise ship slowly smashes into a dock at Berth 3.  The Alaska Dispatch News says that "longshoremen, port security personnel and Celebrity employees noticed something was wrong with the ship’s approach and moved out of the way." 

News accounts state that there was damage to the hull of the Infinity including a hole in the ship above its waterline. The harbor director reportedly estimated the damage to the dock will cost $2-3 million to repair. 

Wind in the area was reported to be gusting to around 45 miles per hour, although the Coast Guard did not yet release a determination of the official cause of the incident. 

Mishaps between cruise ships and docks like this are infrequent but they do happen from time to time. Usually, a pilot is at the helm when the ship is docking at port.  One of the last such incidents occurred back in 2011 when a MSC cruise ship, the Opera, struck a dock in Buenos Aires. It was also caught on video which was posted on YouTube.

Fortunately. there were no reports of injury of either the crew members or passengers.  Seven years ago, the Costa Europa cruise ship smashed into a concrete pier in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The collision ripped a hole in the hull of the cruise ship and flooded a crew cabin, resulting in the death of three crew members.

Video Credit: YouTube video Maria Harvey

https://youtube.com/watch?v=fEPNfLmcUO0%3Frel%3D0

KRBD FM Community Radio for Southeast Alaska has an interesting story today about cruise passengers aboard the broken down Celebrity Millennium cruise ship calling 911 in Ketchikan out of fear that a "riot" would break out. 

It seems like some cruise passengers were unruly about the cancellation of the cruise and communications about where the passengers were to be flown.

A local police chief told KRBD:

“We, the police department, received three 911 calls from passengers on the MV Millennium who stated that people were getting unruly on board the ship, and they believed a riot was about to begin. Officers responded to the ship, met with ship security and advised them of the 911 calls. Ship security and officers contacted approximately 500 guests on the third floor of the vessel, and subsequently peace was restored and officers left.”

Read more: Passengers on Troubled Cruise Ship Near Rioting, Callers Told Ketchikan Police

Just imagine if the Millennium was stuck in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico for four or five days.

Millennium Cruise ship Alaska

Story & Photo Credit: KRBD