MIAMI, FLORIDA – As it continues to receive backlash over past and recent environmental violations, including discharging blackwater in Bahamian seas, Carnival Corporation officials have assured that numerous policy changes have been implemented to ensure that those violations are not repeated.
During a press briefing with members of the Bahamian media at the company’s Florida-based headquarters yesterday, high level executives of the company sought to clarify what actions were being taken to regain the public’s trust amidst its ongoing United States criminal environmental case.
Last month, a Court Appointed Monitor (CAM) in the Carnival Corporation case filed a 100-page report outlining numerous ongoing environmental violations committed by the cruise line and several of its brands over 90 days.
However, John Haeflinger, senior vice president of maritime policy and analysis, noted that the company has moved to ensure their fleets are compliant across the board, including investing in upgraded treatment systems, reducing its food waste by at least 10 percent and hiring more employees to limit errors.
While he acknowledged that the company did discharge treated sewerage in Bahamian waters, Haeflinger said this was due in large part to the fact that the country’s archipelagic baseline was not “clearly understood”.
He explained that because of The Bahamas’ geological makeup, with islands far apart, and the international standard for cruise lines to discharge three miles off the baseline, there were errors made in discharging between the islands.
“We’ve taken a lot of effort to make sure training is in place to ensure our ships understand it well and once that was understood, I think we’ve certainly reduced the risk of those types of events occurring,” Haeflinger said.
“Last year, we implemented a even more conservative policy than just following in this case international law, such that we now have all of our corporate policies to be outside of 12 nautical miles from the baseline whereas three nautical miles is the international standard.”
The revelation comes just weeks after Carnival Corporation was found breaking numerous environmental violations, including dumping blackwater in Bahamian seas, amid an ongoing United States criminal environmental case.
Among the violations the company has reportedly committed include air emissions; discharges to the sea, including Advanced Air Quality System washwater, ballast water, black water (sewage), chemicals, food waste, grey water, oil, recreational (e.g., pool/Jacuzzi) water, and solid items/garbage (including plastics); pollution prevention equipment maintenance and operation; and record keeping, including alleged training record falsification; unauthorized modification of a logbook with randomly adjusted numbers; multiple instances of missing or inadvertently destroyed logbooks; and errors and discrepancies discovered in log books and records.
Carnival Corporation reached a settlement with US federal prosecutors last year that mandated the company 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).
Last week, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said the government has also taken several proactive, comprehensive measures to address the issues.
He said the government has widely circulated the strict parameters of The Bahamas’ territorial waters as far as discharges at sea are concerned and advised the cruising industry and all international shipping that that absolutely no discharges will be tolerated.
Wells also said that with the help of the Bahamas Maritime Association the government is developing a broad database of potential past discharge locations along major routes.
He said efforts are being made to access all locations to determine any remedial action needed – which the government will look to the cruise lines to fund.