Carnival Corp's Princess Cruise
Lines will plead guilty to seven felony charges of polluting the
seas and trying to cover it up, and pay a record $40 million
criminal penalty, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.
The charges against Carnival's Santa Clarita,
California-based unit stem from "illegal dumping of oil
contaminated waste from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship," the
department said in a statement on the company's "deliberate
pollution of the seas and intentional acts to cover it up."
Shares of Carnival, the world's largest cruise operator,
were down 1.8 percent at $50.50 in late-morning trading on the
New York Stock Exchange after the announcement. In London, its
shared were off 2.8 percent.
Company representatives could not be reached immediately for
The Caribbean Princess had been making illegal discharges
since 2005 using bypass equipment - including a so-called "magic
pipe" - to circumvent pollution-prevention equipment that
separates oil and monitors oil levels in the ship's water, the
U.S. investigators began to probe the ship's actions after a
whistle-blower engineer reported illegal dumping off the coast
of England in August 2013. Two other top ship engineers then
ordered a cover-up, called on subordinates to lie and sought to
remove the pipe.
"This is a company that knew better and should have done
better," Assistant Attorney General John Cruden said in the
statement. "Hopefully the outcome of this case has the potential
not just to chart a new course for this company but for other
companies as well."
The Caribbean Princess ship visited ports in ports in nine
U.S. states and two territories, including Florida, New York,
Maine the U.S. Virgin Islands, the department said.
U.S. investigators found the Caribbean Princess and four
other Princess Cruise Lines ships engaged in two other illegal
practices affecting water discharge, it added.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer in Miami called the company's
conduct overall "particularly troubling," given its "documented
history of environmental violations," including in southern
Cruise ship travel has generated concern among environmental
groups and governments over water contamination and waste as the
industry adds passengers, routes and larger ships.
Some environmental groups have criticized the cruise
industry for not being more proactive in reducing air and water
pollution, and for not being transparent about their efforts.
Cruise Line International Association, which represents the
industry, has pledged to take steps to reduce cruise travel's
environmental impact and has said cruise lines must follow