The Carnival Elation ship.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
CARNIVAL Corporation has reached a settlement with US federal prosecutors that would see it pay $20 million in fines for violating terms of its probation.
The company admitted to six violations of its Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP), one of which involves having its ship, Carnival Elation, discharge plastic mixed with food waste in Bahamian waters on December 16, 2018 in violation of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). Other violations include falsifying records, communicating with the US Coast Guard through a back channel, failing to give enough authority to the company’s environmental compliance officer and rushing to clean up ships ahead of visits by a court-appointed monitor.
Carnival had a net income of $3.2 billion in 2018.
The genesis of the company’s legal setback is a 2016 case in which it pleaded guilty to dumping waste into the ocean and covering it up. The initial settlement required the company to pay a $40 million fine and serve a five-year probation in which it would be supervised by a court-appointed monitor.
The monitor’s reports for the first two years revealed how Carnival ships dumped 66,000 gallons of ballast water and hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated sewage and food waste in Bahamian waters. The first report also highlighted the company’s efforts to comply with the ECP. The Bahamas Maritime Authority is conducting its own probe into Carnival’s actions in Bahamian waters.
The world’s largest cruise operator, Carnival has nine cruise brands and 105 ships worldwide. Through the new settlement agreement, the company has agreed to allow additional audits and visits from its monitor and third party auditor.
The agreement says: “The company agrees that within 30 days of the signing of this agreement it will issue a statement to all employees in which the CEO of Carnival Corporation & PLC personally accepts management responsibility for the probation violations in connection with the court’s acceptance of the proposed joint resolution of the petition.”
It adds: “The company acknowledges that there have been discharges and other releases made in violation of MARPOL during the period of probation that have not been reported to the country in whose waters the violation occurred. Accordingly, the company agrees to a special condition of probation that includes a new obligation governing the reporting of environmental discharges and releases in violation of MARPOL, the ballast water convention, the London dumping convention or any future maritime environmental convention to which the United States becomes a party and which goes into effect during the period of Princess’s probation.”
US District Court Judge Patricia Seitz approved the agreement yesterday. At a previous hearing she threatened to block Carnival from docking in US docks. According to the Associated Press, she said yesterday: “The concern I have is that senior management has no skin in the game. My goal is to have the defendant change its behaviour.”
She reportedly said future violations might be met with prison time and criminal fines from individuals.
The Associated Press said Carnival’s CEO Arnold Donald stood in open court and admitted the company’s responsibility for probation violations. “The company pleads guilty,” he reportedly said six times.
Sam Duncombe, head of local environmental group reEarth, was one of three people behind an emergency motion seeking to be recognised in the proceedings as a victim and granted the powers and responsibilities that come with that distinction. According to The Miami Herald, prosecutors filed a motion telling the judge they should not be considered victims under the Crime Victims Rights Act. Up to press time last night the fate of the motion was unclear.
In response to local outcry, Attorney General Carl Bethel has said there will be an environmental protection law by the end of the summer, enabling the Bahamas to go after polluters.