A cruise line company, based in the US, has agreed to plead guilty to seven felony charges stemming from its deliberate pollution of the seas and intentional acts to cover it up. The company will pay a $40 million penalty– the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution – and plead guilty to charges related to illegal dumping of oil contaminated waste from one of their ships.
The company will also have to operate under a court supervised Environmental Compliance Program (ECP) for five years. The ECP will require independent audits by an outside entity and a court appointed monitor.
The charges concern a cruise ship which used a so-called “magic pipe” to illegally discharge oily waste off the coast of England. The whistle blowing engineer quit his position when the ship reached Southampton, England. The chief engineer and senior first engineer ordered a cover-up, including removal of the magic pipe and directing subordinates to lie.
According to papers filed in court, the ship had been making illegal discharges through bypass equipment since 2005, one year after the ship began operations. The discharge on Aug. 26, 2013, involved approximately 4,227 gallons, 23 miles off the coast of England within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. At the same time as the discharge, engineers simultaneously ran clean seawater through the ship’s overboard equipment in order to create a false digital record for a legitimate discharge