September 16, 1998
MIAMI (Reuters) - A U.S. judge Wednesday ordered Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the world's second largest cruise line, to pay a $1 million fine for dumping oily bilge waste into the ocean and lying about it, a U.S. prosecutor said.
The penalty was part of a plea-bargain agreement reached in June that will see the company pay a total of $9 million, the largest pollution fines ever assessed against a cruise company, for dumping oil into Caribbean and Atlantic waters, Asst. U.S. Attorney Tom Watts-Fitzgerald said.
In addition to the fine, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks put Royal Caribbean on five years probation and ordered it to submit an environmental compliance plan by December 15.
"It's a substantial amount of money,'' Watts-Fitzgerald told Reuters after the sentencing.
"This is the largest collective fine in the cruise ship industry. That alone has to send a significant message.''
Royal Caribbean pleaded guilty in June to eight felony counts in a pretrial agreement with prosecutors on cases brought in Puerto Rico and Florida. Sentencing in the Puerto Rico case, where Royal Caribbean agreed to pay $8 million, is set for September 25.
In the Florida case, the company's Nordic Empress pumped bilge waste into the Atlantic enroute from the Bahamas to Miami February 1, 1993. A U.S. Coast Guard aircraft searching for drug smugglers spotted a seven-mile oil slick behind the ship.
When the ship arrived in port, U.S. authorities asked to see a log in
which ship's officers were required to record bilge pumping. The log falsely
omitted the fact that they had pumped oily waste,
The company was charged with making a false statement to federal authorities
in that case, he said. In the Puerto Rico case, involving the vessel Sovereign
of the Seas, the company faced polluting,
Royal Caribbean admitted in June its crews routinely pumped oil bilge, kept dummy logs called "fairy tale'' books by the crew, and disassembled illegal sewage pipes bypassing cleaning devices as part of a conspiracy to hide the illegal practices.
Watts-Fitzgerald said the investigation into Royal Caribbean's environmental practices had not ended.
|October 14, 1998
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. , the world's second-largest cruise line, was ordered Wednesday to pay $8 million for dumping oil and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard about it, the Justice Department said. The sentencing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was in addition to a $1 million fine levied in a Miami court last month. The two court cases were part of an overall plea bargain by Royal Caribbean that involves five years of monitoring the line's environmental conduct.
Royal Caribbean pleaded guilty in June to eight felony counts in a pretrial agreement with prosecutors on cases brought in Puerto Rico and Florida.
The Justice Department said even after that pact there were new violations in July involving tampering with oil limiting sensors and false statements in an oil log book aboard Royal Caribbean's Nordic Empress cruise ship. The cruise line said it had reported the July incident to the government itself after an employee noticed two engineers tampering with the equipment.
``We took the incident very seriously. The two engineers involved have been fired,'' Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Lynn Martenstein said, adding that an environmental plan was being developed with the government for court approval by Dec. 15.
Royal Caribbean will present regular environmental reports and independent audits to the government under the probation requirements.
``Royal Caribbean's crimes, including dumping oil into our oceans, lying about it and trying to cover it up by obstructing justice are serious offenses that require serious punishment,'' Assistant Attorney General Lois Schiffer said in a statement.
Royal Caribbean admitted in June its crews routinely pumped oil bilge, kept dummy logs called ``fairy tale'' books by the crew, and disassembled illegal sewage pipes bypassing cleaning devices as part of a conspiracy to hide the illegal practices.
``This case gives fair warning to cruise lines and other corporations which seek to maximize profits by illegally discharging wastes at sea,'' Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator Steven Herman said. (back to first Royal Caribbean article)