Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said yesterday that the government will not allow the waters of The Bahamas to be compromised after it was revealed that Carnival Corporation cruise ships dumped almost 500,000 gallons of sewage in Bahamian waters in 2017.
Speaking in the House of Assembly, Wells said the government has received two reports from Carnival.
“We have now received from Carnival two records: A record and description of all the incidents caused by Carnival group vessels in Bahamian waters, regardless of the vessel’s registry; and a record and description of all incidents caused by Carnival group Bahamas registered vessels, regardless of location,” he said.
“These two records encompass year one, from April 2017 to April 2018 of Carnival’s U.S. court-ordered operational audit, and year two, from April 2018 to April 2019, of such audit.”
“We are processing, cross-referencing and investigating this information using all of our resources.”
Wells said the government has established a joint task force to accelerate the investigative process.
“The attorney general’s office has engaged to assess the extent of criminality in these actions and to determine what remedies are available based upon Bahamian environmental protection laws and any applicable international maritime conventions and the law of the sea,” he said.
Wells added, “No ship privileged to enter Bahamian waters should discharge anything harmful into our waters.
“Our environment, our waters, will not be compromised.”
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.