Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, may be prevented from docking ships stationed at U.S. ports following accusations by the federal government regarding its violation of probation agreements after disposing of plastic waste into the ocean.
In 2016, Carnival Corp. was accused of illegally disposing of oil-contaminated waste into the ocean from one of their Princess Cruise Lines ships and then covering it up from authorities. Carnival Corp. eventually plead guilty to seven charges of illegal dumping from the ship and agreed to pay a $40 million settlement fee. However, the penalty also required that the company follow a comprehensive environmental compliance program which would be court-supervised for a total of five years. The agreement included a court-appointed program supervisor, as well as regular audits, for a total of eight Carnival-owned companies.
However, during its probationary period, Carnival Corp. and the cruise ships associated with the company and its subsidiaries failed to follow environmental protocols by repeatedly disposing of plastic waste into the ocean. Carnival Corp. was also accused of organizing a pre-audit program created to hide incriminating information prior to its court-scheduled audits.
While the alleged activities of Carnival Corp. directly violate its agreed-upon environmental compliance program, it is reported that many of the company’s top executives are not taking the situation seriously. In fact, during a hearing earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz berated Carnival Corp. chairman, Mickey Arison, and president, Arnold Donald, for their absence in the hearing and lack of demonstrated concern regarding the case.
During an interview with the Miami Herald, Judge Seitz even stated, “The people at the top are treating this as a gnat,”. She added, “If I could, I would give all the members of the executive committee a visit to the detention center for a couple of days. It’s amazing how that helps people come to focus on reality.”.
Judge Seitz also requested that the absent chairman and president of Carnival Corp. attend the hearing scheduled in June of 2019, where they are expected to answer questions regarding the allegations.
According to a recent status report, one of the most concerning aspects of this case is the company’s failure to act on the allegations of their 2016 settlement.
The report also added, “Equally concerning is the admission by Carnival in its status report that after all these years this ship, and apparently others, failed to implement an effective process for ensuring that plastics and other items were segregated from food waste and not dumped overboard.”.
Going forward, Carnival Corp. must attend an additional hearing in June of this year, where a court-appointed monitor and auditor will be present. Until then, Judge Seitz is also considering whether or not to deny vessels of Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. from docking at U.S. ports given its lack of concern to its compliance program and its repeated pollution.
To learn more about this case or to keep-up-to-date on similar cases, contact the Jeffrey Newman Law Whistleblower Help Center and blog!