Seven cruise ship companies pay Alaska over $570,000 for air pollution

Seven companies that operate cruise ships in Alaskan coastal waters have agreed to pay fines of $402,500, with $175,000 of suspended fines, for air quality violations which occurred during the 2000 season, identified by the Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative (ACSI).

The Alaskan Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has received regular complaints regarding emissions from diesel fumes and other smoky exhaust from cruise ships from coastal communities which, under state law, must be kept from reducing visibility by more than 20%. The seven operators that were found to have exceeded the rule have now agreed to pay civil penalties, and have reduced the number of incidents involving excess emissions through equipment and operational improvements.

“The process resulted in fair settlements that balanced the need to hold companies responsible for violations of state law, while recognising the innovative work that some of the cruise lines are doing to keep violations from occurring in the future,” said Alaskan Attorney General Bruce Botelho. “It is my hope that the suspended fines will encourage these cruise lines to keep improving the environmental compliance of their ships.”

The largest fine – of $165,000 – was levied against Holland America, for six violations in 2000, and a further $27,500 for pollution last year. The company showed a marked improvement between 2000 and 2001, partly due to the addition of an extra engineer to help keep the ships in compliance.

Crystal Cruises have paid a $55,000 fine for two violations in 2000, and a further $55,000 for two violations this year, of which $27,000 has been suspended on condition that none of the company’s ships do not violate the rule in 2002. Princess Cruises have paid $55,000 for violations in 2000, and the same level of fine for 2001, with the whole of the latter fine being suspended on condition that there are no violations next year. The company also recently introduced power to the dock in Juneau so that its ships could turn their engines off entirely whilst in port.

World Explorer has paid $27,500 for one violation in 2000, with $10,000 suspended on condition of no further violations next year. Similar fines have been levied against Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line. Finally, Celebrity Cruises have already paid a $55,000 fine for two violations in 2000, and are continuing to discuss alleged violations in 2001.

“DEC worked with the Department of Law to ensure a firm and consistent enforcement policy that had clear consequences for violating standards but also recognised the leadership shown and investments made by the cruise lines, especially Princess and Crystal, to improve performance,” said DEC Commissioner Michele Brown. “The cruise lines have made considerable progress towards much cleaner air.”

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