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100,000 activists ask Carnival Cruise Lines to fix sewage problem

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Friends of the Earth delivered more than 100,000 signatures to Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corporation, asking Carnival Cruise Lines to update its wastewater treatment practices. More than 100,000 activists wrote to Carnival asking it to clean up its sewage treatment systems. Donald accepted the signatures at Cruise Shipping Miami, the biggest annual gathering of cruise industry representatives in the U.S., and expressed interest in entering a dialogue with Friends of the Earth.

At a panel of cruise executives this morning, “State of the Global Cruise Industry,” Donald said, “On the green side, in terms of environmental stewardship, I give us an A+.”

Despite such assertions, Carnival has received an ‘F’ grade for its sewage treatment practices every year since Friends of the Earth first issued the Cruise Ship Report Card in 2009. With the largest cruise fleet in the world at 24 ships, Carnival Cruise Lines should be a leader when it comes to keeping its environmental impact to a minimum, but only two ships in its fleet have modern equipment. Carnival relies on 35-year-old waste treatment technology in the other 22 ships in its fleet. Such antiquated treatment systems leave harmful levels of fecal matter, bacteria, heavy metals and other contaminants in the water. If Carnival installed newer Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems, or AWTS, its grade would improve. Currently, Carnival remains at the back of the pack while its closest competitor, Royal Caribbean, has installed AWTS on 21 of its 22 ships.

While the Cruise Lines International Association claims to speak with one voice for the entire cruise industry, in reality, there’s a wide range of diversity between individual cruise lines represented by CLIA. Carnival, the largest of the lines, has invested the least in advanced wastewater treatment systems, with just two of its 24 ships equipped with modern technology. In contrast, 98 percent of the combined fleet of 46 ships — owned by Norwegian, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean — are equipped with advanced wastewater treatment systems. Clearly, the public can choose a line that reduces its environmental impact for the spectacular places they visit.

Below is the statement to Carnival from Friends of the Earth activists:

“I have just learned that Carnival received an F for sewage treatment from the 2014 Cruise Ship Report Card issued by Friends of the Earth. I am extremely upset that your company has been using 35-year-old technology to treat sewage waste on a significant majority of your cruise ship fleet. Sewage treated with this older technology often contains significant amounts of fecal bacteria, heavy metals, and nutrients that I don’t want dumped in our oceans.

Please commit to cleaning up Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships before even more sewage pollutes our oceans, contaminating our beaches and reefs and potentially causing illness in people through eating tainted seafood or contact with polluted water.”

“It’s time for cruise lines, particularly Carnival, to stop using our oceans as a toilet,” said Marcie Keever, Oceans and Vessels program director for Friends of the Earth, whose report card is meant both to draw attention to the environmental impact of the booming cruise industry and to help cruise-goers choose the most environmentally responsible cruises. “If Carnival wants to advertise its cruise vacations as a chance to ‘come back to the sea,’ it must do more to protect the oceans its customers cherish. While Carnival Cruise Lines may not choose to invest in modern sewage treatment technology, cruise passengers have a clear choice to travel with lines that do,” Keever said.

“Carnival needs to show more respect for the wonderful, but increasingly vulnerable places they visit,” said Fred Felleman, Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth. “Upgrading their sewage treatment is the least they can do.”

Background on Carnival Cruise Line’s overall grade of “D” for outdated technology and lack of transparency is available here. Report card results and methodology for all graded cruise lines are available here. Friends of the Earth has also created an infographic and a quiz to inform stakeholders of the environmental impacts of cruise ships.

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Expert contact: Marcie Keever, (510) 900-3144, mkeever@foe.org
Communications contact: EA Dyson, (202) 222-0730, edyson@foe.org
On site contact: Fred Felleman, (206) 595-3825, Felleman@comcast.net

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