A “magic pipe” dumping oil into the ocean has landed a Carnival cruise line called Princess Cruises in hot water.
The U.S. government doesn’t take too kindly to pollution in the ocean. That’s why Princess Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Corp, has been fined $40 million for dumping oil from their ships near England’s coast in 2013.
According to the Miami Herald, not only did Princess Cruises dump the pollutant knowing it was illegal, but the carnival cruise line attempted to cover it up. After an intensive investigation, it was found that this had likely not been the first time Princess Cruises had illegally dumped oil at sea. In fact, they believed the carnival cruise line had also dumped oil off ports near Texas and South Florida in 2012 and 2013.
Princess Cruises was brought to justice for dumping oil in the ocean by a whistle blower from within the company who alerted the government to what the carnival cruise line was doing. The $10 million fine that the carnival cruise line is being forced to pay will go towards programs that help the ocean environment in an attempt to revert some of the damage the oil dumping has done. As part of the punishment, the courts will also be monitoring how waste will be handled on the company’s large fleets. The goal of the monitoring is to make sure Princess Cruises does not start dumping oil into the ocean again.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden has publicly stated that this is to be a message to the entire industry. The message is that lying to the U.S. Coast Guard is a serious offense, as is the polluting of the waters, and violators will be prosecuted.
According to The Guardian, Princess Cruise Lines released a statement saying they were sorry for damaging the environment. Princess said they were disappointed in their employees and intended to cooperate with the government and the coast guard as soon as they were told. Princess Cruises put new leadership in place and made sure they remove anyone involved in the incident. They added new equipment to their ships to make sure they stayed environmentally compliant.
“Although we had policies and procedures in place it became apparent they were not fully effective. We are very sorry that this happened and have taken additional steps to ensure we meet or exceed all environmental requirements.”
The correct way for them to discharge the contaminated water from the ship’s fuel system and engine was to use a filtration system within the ship that pumps the oil out and makes the water safe to dispose of. The cruise ships were not using a filtration system and just directly dumping the water mixed with oil directly into the ocean. While some have speculated Princess Cruises were likely dumping oil directly into the ocean to save money, it ended up costing them a lot more in the long run.
It was revealed that the company itself had instructed their workers to skip using the filtration system – which one engineer knew was illegal – and dumping the oil directly into the ocean. It was a cellphone video recording shared with the government that ultimately brought the carnival cruise line down.
The cruise ship called their system, which bypassed the filtering, a magic pipe. It sent over 4,000 gallons of dirty water which contained oil and other pollutants directly into the ocean. The pipe was shown on the cellphone when pictures were snapped of it; the crew later removed it knowing they were going to be inspected. As soon as the whistle blowing engineer had the evidence, he quit and went directly to the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Not only did they remove the pipe before inspection, but they also falsified documents they give to the inspectors and tricked the ship into thinking water mixed with oil was being filtered by pouring saltwater into the places where a monitor would be used for inspection.
During the investigation, it was discovered four other ships within the carnival cruise line had done the same thing in between 2005 and 2013. Princess Cruises was not the only cruise line owned by Carnival to harm the environment by ignoring protocol and illegally dumping contaminated water. Norwegian and Royal cruise lines were also fined millions for ignoring the rules on dealing with possible pollutants.
It is believed if the whistle blower hadn’t brought Princess Cruises’ indiscretions to the attention of the authorities, they would have continued dumping oil into the ocean for years before being caught.
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