Princess Cruise Lines pleads guilty to dumping oil, covering its tracks

Princess Cruise Lines pleads guilty to dumping oil, covering its tracks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division today announced that Carnival Corporation’s Princess Cruise Lines will plead guilty to deliberately dumping oil-contaminated waste into the ocean and covering it up. Illegal discharges by the Caribbean Princess since 2005 will result in seven felony charges and a $40 million penalty, the largest fine in the history of criminal cases involving deliberate vessel pollution. Friends of the Earth gave Princess Cruises a C grade overall, with an F for transparency, in its 2016 Cruise Ship Report Card.

John Kaltenstein, senior policy analyst for Friends of the Earth, issued the following response:

Princess Cruise Lines’ offense is all too reminiscent of cases in the 1990s when the cruise industry was exposed by the U.S. federal government for dumping oily waste and bypassing their treatment systems to save money. Deliberate pollution is completely unacceptable and we continue to call on the cruise industry to be transparent and clean up its act. The entire industry needs to be investigated, and the ships violating the law should be banned from U.S. waters for at least one year. This egregious case of wrongdoing shows just how critically we need federal agency and congressional oversight of cruise industry pollution practices.

Princess’s behavior also shows that we cannot take this polluting industry’s claims of environmental responsibility at face value even when they install the most current pollution control technologies, as systems can be avoided or deactivated so that untreated waste flows right into the sea.  The discharge of oil into our oceans is extremely harmful to marine life and can have long-lasting environmental and economic repercussions.  The corporate culture that gave rise to these deceptive and illegal acts ought to be scrutinized, both within Princess and at the other cruise line brands comprising the Carnival group. For years Friends of the Earth has been saying that this sector is not as green as it claims to be. Today’s announcement of Princess’s guilty plea is proof that talk is cheap and that the cruise ship industry still has a long way to go until its practices match its rhetoric.

To view the results of the 2016 and past years’ Cruise Ship Report Card grading pollution and transparency, visit /cruise-report-card


Expert contact: John Kaltenstein, (510) 900-3142, [email protected]

Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, [email protected]

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