Carnival Corp. of Miami, Fla., which operates 40 cruise ships including those of the Carnival Cruise Lines, pleaded guilty on April 19 to falsification of oil record books on several of its ships. The company will pay $18 million in fines, $9 million of which will be used for a variety of environmental community service projects. Carnival was also ordered to implement and enforce a new corporation-wide environmental compliance program.
The falsifications occurred on numerous occasions between 1996 and 2001, during which period employees ran fresh water past the sensors in the oil water separators of Carnival ships, generating false oil concentration readings. As a result, the sensors failed to activate a diversion valve which would have otherwise kept the contaminated water on board. This allowed the bilge water with oil levels exceeding the allowable limit of 15 ppm to be flushed into sea.
Crew members then took the false sensor readings and recorded them in the ships' oil record books. The release of bilge water with greater than allowed concentrations of oil has the potential to do significant harm to ocean life. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General's Office, the FBI and the U.S. Customs Service. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Miami. (Source: EPA)