Cruise line CEO apologises for polluting Alaskan waters

The CEO of Royal Caribbean International has visited the cruise line's ports of call in Alaska, apologising in person for his company's pollution of its waters. Royal Caribbean was issued a record $18 million fine for illegal dumping of oil and hazardous chemicals in six US states and districts.

The $18 million fine came only a year after the company received a $9 million after pleading guilty to similar charges (see related story).

The Alaskan component of the $18 million fine totaled $6.5 million and related to four felony violations of the US Oil Pollution Act. Royal Caribbean admitted to the deliberated and routine midnight dumping of harmful quantities of waste oil into the waters off the coast of Alaska, including the ecologically-sensitive Inside Passage where Haines and Skagway are the cruise ships’ ports of call.

Two felony counts for supplying false statements to the Coast Guard relating to ships’

Oil Record Books were also included in the $6.5 million Alaskan fine, and one felony violation of the US Clean Water Act for the knowing discharge of pollutants, including photo and dry cleaning waste into coastal waters, including the Port of Juneau.

The dumping of dry cleaning chemicals and other waste was achieved through the use of secret bypass pipes.

Jack Williams, Royal Caribbean’s CEO, has met with local government leaders and citizens in Skagway, Haines, Juneau and Ketchican to apologise for his company’s actions. According to Royal Caribbean’s 1998 environmental report the company has “sought out voluntarily environmental standards which exceed national and international regulatory requirements. In 1998, Royal Caribbean International achieved another first, becoming the first cruise line to achieve ISO 14001 certification for the environmental management system on its megaclass ships. All Royal Caribbean and Celebrity [owned by Royal Caribbean] ships now sail with an Environmental Officer. These officers have broad oversight of all environmental aspects of the ship’s operation and provide a full-time environmental champion on board. They have direct access to the Master for any environmental issues and to the Senior Vice President, Safety & Environment, shoreside.”

Violations figuring in the $6.5 Alaskan-specific fine relate to incidents dating from 1990, 1994 and 1995. Charges pursued by other US states and districts relate to incidents taking place as recently as 1998.

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