Cruise

“We’re not there, and we should be”: Judge calls on Carnival to fix pollution problems faster

A federal judge has called on Carnival Corporation to work faster to fix ocean pollution problems.

Speaking on Wednesday at a hearing in a Miami federal court, US District Judge Patricia Seitz said she expects more action, and fewer promises from the cruise company.

“We’re not there, and we should be,” Seitz said, as reported by the Associated Press (AP).

Carnival is currently serving a five-year probation order from 2016 for a criminal pollution conviction.

CEO Arnold Donald and chairman Micky Arison said the company is doing a lot, but it takes time to implement real changes at a company that employs 120,000 employees, more than 100 cruise ships and nine different brands, according to AP.

“We strive to be perfect,” Arison told the judge. “We won’t ever be perfect, but we are going to work toward that.”

Earlier this year, Carnival CEO Arnold Donald confessed the company had infringed probation terms from a 2016 criminal conviction for discharging oily waste from its Princess Cruise Lines ships and covered it up.

The cruise company was hit with a $28.6 million fine on top of $59 million imposed originally.

At the time, the company acknowledged its ships had committed environmental crimes by discharging grey water in prohibited areas and knowingly dumping plastic and food waste in the Bahamas.

Carnival also confessed to falsifying compliance documents and other administrative violations, including organising teams to clean up its ships immediately prior to scheduled inspections.

Richard Udell, a Justice Department lawyer specialising in environmental enforcement, cited the recent inability of Carnival to detail what happens to the estimated 50 million plastic bottles used on its ships each year. He told AP that Carnival simply told the government they don’t keep track of that because they are all supposedly recycled at some of its 700 destinations.

Prosecutors want to know if that is really the case, or whether bottles are often dumped in the ocean or in landfills by other entities where Carnival ships dock.

“If we don’t look, we won’t know, and if we don’t know, we don’t care,” Udell told AP. “We hope that we can get past this.”

Speaking to Travel Weekly, a Carnival Corporation spokesman said multiple initiatives are underway across the company as part of its strategy, including increased training, new ship tools, and additional oversight, to remain environmentally compliant.

He also noted that the cruise giant recently launched an effort to dramatically decrease single-use plastics onboard ships, as well as an overall reduction in food waste, in addition to its recycling programs.

Furthermore, the company recently created the role of chief compliance and ethics officer, filled by Peter Anderson. It has also partnered with environmental advocate Jean-Marie Cousteau to serve as an advisor on environmental initiatives.

“The environment and environmental compliance is a top priority for the company and its brands,” Carnival’s spokesman told Travel Weekly.

“This is a journey for all of us that never ends, but we are making important progress.”

Another status hearing is set for December.

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