The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday that a cruise line will pay the largest fine ever for illegally dumping toxic waste overboard.
Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. will pay a $40 million fine after illegally dumping oil and contaminated waste overboard and for falsifying official ship logs to conceal the crime. Senior engineering officials even requested crew members lie to authorities to conceal the illegal dumping, according to the DOJ.
“These violations of law were serious, longstanding and designed to conceal illegal discharges,” Jeffrey H. Wood, acting assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s environmental division, said in a statement. “The sentence in this case should ensure that these crimes do not take place in the future and should also send a strong message to others that illegally polluting U.S. waters will not be tolerated.”
A Princess Cruise Lines’ ships, the Caribbean Princess, dumped approximately 4,227 gallons of oil and contaminated liquid waste 23 miles off the coast of England in August 2013.
After dumping the waste, the ship’s engineers ran clean seawater through the ship’s monitoring equipment and created a false digital record to conceal their criminal conduct. The chief engineer who ordered the dumping told subordinates it cost too much to properly offload the waste in port. At a comparable port, disposing of the waste would have cost $3,134 for a single trip, according to research.
U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz, who oversaw the trial, ordered $1 million be paid to a British whistle-blower who told authorities about the dumping. The whistle-blower gave authorities photographic evidence of the illegal dumping of toxic waste.
DOJ attorneys had evidence of similar illegal practices on five ships belonging to Princess Cruise Lines.
Princess Cruise Lines was put on probation for five years and undergo independent environmental audits and oversight by a court-appointed monitor.
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