The Carnival Elation ship.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
CARNIVAL Corporation, the multi-billion-dollar company set to construct a mega port in East Grand Bahama’s eco-sensitive zone, has broken international environmental laws many times in Bahamian waters, according to a newly-released court mandated report.
The report, which covers April 2017 to April 2018 and was prepared by a US court-appointed monitor, reveals how Carnival illegally dumped hundreds of thousands of treated sewage in Bahamian waters along with more than 8,000 gallons of food waste.
“For example, between June 4-16, 2017, the Carnival Elation (ship) discharged approximately 1,270 cubic metres of treated sewage and 22 cubic metres of food waste in Bahamian archipelagic waters in violation of MARPOL and company requirements,” the report says. “Likewise, on June 15, 2017, the Carnival Conquest, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Magic and Carnival Vista made prohibited discharges of sewage and food waste in Bahamian archipelagic waters. According to the company, the cause of these events ‘appears to be associated with the interpretation of procedure.’”
The report documented more than a dozen incidents.
“While anchored at Half Moon Cay (within the Bahamas archipelagic baseline),” it reported, “a plastic bin containing a plastic bag and non-comminuted food waste fell into the sea due to it being not properly secured to a pallet. Incident occurred when one local tender was transferring back to ship the food waste generated on the island. Half Moon Cay does not have a waste facility and hence all food waste that is generated on the island by the ships guest are brought back on board to be disposed of by the ship. The plastic bin, waste bag, and some food waste was recovered but approximately 15 pounds of food waste could not be recovered.”
The effects on the environment of much of Carnival’s unlawful actions are unclear. The court-appointed monitor said the violations were unintentional. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) dictates when and where ships can release comminuted food waste and treated or untreated sewage into the sea. It specifies rules for how such materials must be discharged.
According to the Miami Herald, separate court documents show that the Carnival Conquest ship illegally dumped 66,000 gallons of ballast water into Bahamian waters in November 2018. The release of untreated ballast water could introduce invasive species into an environment, devastating local ecosystems. It is not clear if the ballast water released in local waters was treated. The Miami Herald wrote: “In that case, the engineer involved offered to falsify records to make it look like the dump happened at open sea to his superior, who instructed him to report it correctly.”
In December 2016, the Princess Cruise Lines, a subsidiary of a Carnival Corporation, pled guilty to seven felony counts related to vessel pollution and efforts to conceal that pollution, one count of conspiracy, four counts of failure to maintain accurate records and two counts of obstruction of justice. The cruise line had to pay a $40 million criminal penalty, the largest ever for deliberate vessel pollution. A five-year term of probation was applied that requires all ships from eight Carnival cruise lines to participate in a supervised environmental compliance programme. The company is required to retain an outside independent third party auditor and to fund a court-appointed monitor.
A US federal judge recently threatened to stop Carnival Corporation from docking its ships in US ports as punishment for its possible probation violation. Court filings show Carnival Corp sought to avoid unfavourable findings by preparing ships ahead of audits and by falsifying records, among other things. At a scheduled June hearing, US District Judge Patricia Seitz is expected to decide whether to revoke Carnival’s probation and punish the company.
In February, Carnival announced plans to develop the world’s largest cruise port in East Grand Bahama. The facility would be able to accommodate two of their largest ships at the same time. The company is leasing 329 acres of land in an area known as Sharp Rock in East Grand Bahama, which is known as an eco-sensitive zone.
Carnival Corporation executive Giora Israel recently said the company is big on protecting the environment, and promised that Carnival would not harm the environment during the construction phase, and would preserve 110 acres as a natural wetland.
Sam Duncombe, president of reEarth environmental group, said yesterday: “Carnival has been caught. What about the ships that have not been caught? Who is out there watching what goes on? It’s a cost to this country that we certainly cannot afford. We make our living because of environment and if we keep ripping out mangroves and dumping all of our garbage and sewage into our oceans that bring people here we’re not going to have a tourism industry.”