Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said yesterday that the government will investigate reports that Carnival Corporation cruise ships dumped almost 500,000 gallons of sewage in Bahamian waters in 2017.
“The government of The Bahamas finds these allegations most disturbing and takes this matter seriously and as such has engaged all relevant government ministries and departments to facilitate a comprehensive review and to provide an appropriate response commensurate to the actions,” he said in a statement.
“Whilst the ships named are not Bahamas flagged, the allegations, if founded, would be considered serious violations of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973/1978 (MARPOL) to which The Bahamas is a party.
“As the port and coastal state in which the violations may have occurred, The Bahamas will investigate and take measures as appropriate.”
While Wells referred to the dumping as “allegations”, Carnival has admitted the incidents occurred.
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.
Wells said the government is in contact with Carnival, and has already requested the 2018 report, which has not yet been made public.
“The government has asked the Port Department and The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) to engage with Carnival and other relevant parties to conduct the investigation into these allegations,” he said.
“Contact has already been made with Carnival, who is cooperating fully with The Bahamas and have pledged full transparency in the investigation into the circumstances of this matter.
“Having regards to the U.S. court’s ordered five-year Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) of Carnival, the BMA has requested from Carnival the U.S. court auditor’s ECP 2018 report.
“The government has been reassured of a comprehensive investigation by the BMA in accordance with international standards.
“Any recommendations arising from the investigation will be implemented to ensure that such incidents do not recur.”
In a recent statement sent to The Nassau Guardian, Carnival Corporation assured its commitment to addressing the issues highlighted in the report.
“These issues were unacceptable failures in our processes that were not in accordance with our policies and procedures, and do not reflect the culture we have built at Carnival Corporation and across our nine cruise line brands,” it said.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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