Save The Bays Chairman Joseph Darville said yesterday that reports that Carnival Corporation cruise ships discharged hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated sewage in Bahamian waters made him “sick”.
But Darville said he still supports the company’s bid to develop a cruise port in Grand Bahama.
“… It made me sick this morning, because just knowing that we were intending to support the development in Grand Bahama for Carnival for the port, you know, that put a bitter taste in my mouth this morning when I read that report.
“And that, of course, will arise when we meet with Carnival with respect to the development in Grand Bahama to know that they cannot do that in my waters. Those are your waters, the people’s waters in The Bahamas.”
Darville, along with Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, called for the implementation of an environmental protection act (EPA).
Regarding his support of Carnival’s Grand Bahama development, Darville said, “That still stands, because when they began all of this debate about that particular development there, we sat down with them and we let them know unequivocally what we needed to know that they were going to do.
“That is something that we understand from A to Z.
“And they have invited us, actually, to monitor everything that they will do.
“So it was completely transparent.
“We know their plans, we know exactly what they are going to do.
“We will know exactly what damage will be done to that environment and what the mitigation will be, how it will be transformed.”
In 2016, Carnival Corporation pleaded guilty to numerous charges stemming from illegally dumping oily bilge water into the ocean between 2005 and 2013, and its systematic coverup of the illegal actions.
The company was fined $40 million by a U.S. court and put on a five-year probation, the conditions of which included the development and implementation of an environmental compliance plan (ECP).
U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz appointed Steven Solow to monitor Carnival Corporation during its probation.
Solow’s first annual report, covering the findings from the first year of the ECP’s implementation, was made public by Seitz last week, and revealed numerous instances of ships improperly discharging sewage and food waste.
Speaking to the need for an EPA, Darville said, “Now when something like that happens in our country, it means that there is a tremendous disregard for our country generally.”
He added, “It speaks more to the neglect of our own country, which doesn’t yet have regulations or laws to deal with matters like that, and in particular the EPA, environmental protection act.
“We do not, in 2019, in this particular time in our country…we still do not have an environmental protection act that will deal with accidents or intentional releases within our waters.
“That is where the real problem is, because if that would have been done close to the coast of the United States, Carnival would have been fined $20 million at least.”
“We can’t do diddly-squat. We can’t even fine them one cent, because there are no regulations that would permit us to do that, unfortunately.”
In a statement, McKinney-Lambert said this is not a “one-off issue”.
“The growing cruise industry brings with it environmental issues that must be addressed,” she said yesterday.
“We need to have a comprehensive and enforceable environmental protection act and much more stringent monitoring and tougher enforcement for our own waters.”
She added, “We do not currently have adequate standards for cruise ship pollution, and even the basic standards are clearly not being adhered to.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish