Amid revelations that several of its cruise ships dumped nearly 500,000 gallons of sewage in Bahamians waters in 2017, Carnival Corporation said yesterday that it would never knowingly violate the sanctity of the Bahamian environment.
Senior Vice President of Global Port and Destination Development for Carnival Corporation Giora Israel said that Carnival is committed to protecting the environment and is fully cooperating with all relevant Bahamian authorities.
“Since the very first days of our venture in the cruise industry, Carnival has held the islands, waters and people of The Bahamas in special regard,” Israel said in a statement.
He added, “Unfortunately, recent headlines have reported instances of treated discharge into Bahamian waters in 2017 by Carnival Corporation ships. This has understandably led to expressions of concern and we would like to provide some context.
“We are always committed to being in compliance, and often our internal policies are even more restrictive than applicable regulations.
“For example, MARPOL regulations require that discharges occur greater than three miles from land while our policies dictate 12 miles. In 2017, the improper discharges cited in the recent news articles all occurred beyond 12 miles.
“All cases were self-identified and self-reported and followed established and accepted reporting protocol.
“All discharges from our ships were fully treated prior to release, posing no threat or harm to the marine environment based on independent studies.
“We have over a thousand transits annually in The Bahamas. Those 2017 incidents represented a very small fraction of the total transits for that year.
“Since the end of 2017, there has only been one instance of an improper discharge, again self-identified and self-reported. However, we feel even one incident is one too many.
“Let there be no doubt that Carnival is and has always been committed to protecting the environment and is fully cooperating with all relevant Bahamian authorities to resolve these concerns.
“To be clear, Carnival as a company would not intentionally or knowingly violate the sanctity of the Bahamian environment, for which we have the utmost respect.”
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 month and revealed numerous instances of ships improperly discharging sewage and food waste.
The revelations of the report were met with public outrage and responses from numerous government officials, who decried the incidents.
Questions were also raised over whether or not Carnival can move forward with its proposed development of a cruise port in Grand Bahama.
“Today, we are entering into an exciting new era in this partnership with the construction of Carnival’s largest private port facility anywhere in the world in Grand Bahama,” Israel said.
“This is expected to create up to 1,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities for Bahamians.
“A unique cruise destination, the food, beverage and retail offerings will be 100 percent operated by Bahamian companies, and when the facility opens, we believe the potential for spin-off enterprise will be enormous.”
He added, “Carnival is committed to The Bahamas and will always be extremely grateful to its people for allowing us to showcase the country’s unique natural wonders to so many people from around the world.
“We regard this as a very special, mutually beneficial relationship.”
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