NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government must stand firm and enforce legislation to protect this nation from become a ‘dumping ground’ for cruise lines a well-known environmentalist has urged.
Joseph Darville, the chairman of the non-profit organization, Save The Bays (STB) told Eyewitness News Online: “These ships enter our waters knowing there is no legislation preventing them from dumping. The can’t dump their backwater or grey water in the United States.
“Until we see that consortium of environmental bills enforced with all the accompanying legislation to bring action against these vessels there isn’t much we can do.”
His comments come after the Court Appointed Monitor (CAM) in the criminal environmental case pending against Carnival Corporation filed a 100 page report yesterday outlining numerous ongoing environmental violations committed by cruise line and several of its brands over the last 90 days.
Those violations 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.
Last year it was reported that Carnival Corporation had 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.
“We still stand to be treated like a dumping ground,” said Darville.
“We have one of the biggest shipping lanes. There is no incentive for them not to do what they are doing. I would advocate that whatever legislation needs to accompany this consortium of laws passed by Parliament be put into force immediately.”
He added: “If we are going to accommodate these cruise ships and the projects that they are undertaking they have to be sensitized efficiently over the obligation they have two to pollute our ocean, beaches and coral reefs. They need to realize that The Bahamas will soon be a position to levy fines for dumping in our waters.”
A compendium of environmental bills were passed last year which would see environmental offenders face penalties of up to $30 million and 10 years in prison.
The bills included the Ministry Of Environment Bill, 2019; the Environmental Planning And Protection Bill, 2019; the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019; the Bahamas National Trust Bill, 2019; the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund Bill, 2019 and the Tariff Amendment Bill 2019.