A whistleblower who reported illegal oil waste dumping from a Princess Cruise Lines ship that eventually exposed widespread oil dumping among other Princess ships received a $1 million award April 19.
U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz in Miami, who imposed a record $40 million criminal penalty on Princess and its parent company Carnival Corporation, awarded the $1 million payout to a British engineer who documented the Caribbean Princess using a “magic pipe” to illegally discharge oily wastewater off the coast of England in August 2013.
Evidence provided by the newly hired ship engineer prompted inspections of the ship both in England and then when it reached New York on Sept. 14, 2013. During each of the separate inspections, certain crew members concealed the illegal dumping activity by lying to the authorities. According to the U.S Department of Justice, the crew members were following orders from Caribbean Princess engineering officers when they lied to investigators.
According to papers filed in court, the Caribbean Princess had been making illegal discharges through bypass equipment since 2005, a year after the ship began operations. The August 2013 discharge involved more than 4,200 gallons and occurred within the U.K.’s Exclusive Economic Zone, about 23 miles off the coast of England. At the same time as the discharge, engineers ran clean seawater through the ship’s monitoring equipment to conceal the wastewater dump and create a false record indicating legitimate activity.
The Caribbean Princess case exposed similar criminal conduct occurring on four other Princess ships – the Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess, and Golden Princess, including activity that indicated the ships discharged waste into U.S. waters and elsewhere.
“Without the courageous act of a junior crew member to alert authorities to these criminal behaviors of deliberately dumping oil at sea, the global environmental damage caused by the Princess fleet could have been much worse,” said Rear Admiral Scott Buschman, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District. “The selflessness of this individual exposed five different ships that embraced a culture of shortcuts and I am pleased at this outcome.”
In addition to the $40 million penalty – the largest-ever ever for crimes involving deliberate polluting by a maritime vessel, the cruise line is required to implement an environmental regulation compliance program that includes independent audits and close scrutiny by a court-appointed monitor.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, Princes Cruises has already taken other corrective actions, including upgrading its oil separating and monitoring equipment on every ship in its fleet and adopting new policies.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice