Judge Orders Carnival Cruise
Line to Stop Illegal Dumping
Lawsuit Settlement Halts
Illegal Ballast Water Dumping by Cruise Ships in California Ports
In settlement of a lawsuit against
cruise lines by environmental groups, Carnival Cruise Lines admitted
to illegally dumping ballast water into California ports and was
ordered by a judge to stop unlawful practices that threaten to
spread aquatic invasive species to coastal waters. The lawsuit,
filed in April 2002 in Los Angeles Superior Court, has succeeded in
prohibiting four cruise lines from discharging untreated ballast
water into California waters. The judge signed the order on Monday.
"If three-strikes applied to
corporate criminals, Carnival’s CEO Micky Arison would be going to
jail today," said Teri Shore of Bluewater Network in San
Francisco. Carnival is already under federal probation for violating
environmental laws. "We are calling on the state to levy
$250,000 in civil fines against Carnival for its egregious
Diana Mann, Surfrider Foundation
representative from the Port City of Long Beach, California, said,
"Carnival was arrogant in their disregard for the law. The
cruise industry has been running dirty and cheap for years while
fighting the public for their right to continue to pollute. We won
this round. We established environmental law and order."
In separate settlements, three
other cruise lines named in the April 2002 lawsuit vowed to follow
state-mandated ballasting practices and spend a total of $75,000 to
research alternative ballast water management methods and
technologies. Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean
admitted no past wrong-doing in the settlements.
Ballast water is the single
largest source of invasive species found in California ports.
It commonly carries exotic aquatic life that can invade local
ecosystems and displace native species. Ballast water is seawater
pumped into ships to ensure stability at sea, and discharged as
needed, often in port when taking on fuel and fresh water.
State law passed in 2000 requires
any ship sailing into California from outside the United States
200-mile coastal zone to hold or treat any ballast water. The law is
currently being reauthorized and is being strengthened to cover
coastwise vessel traffic.
With respect to Carnival, the
parties have agreed to enter into a Judgment by Stipulation. To be
clear, a Judgment by Stipulation is a court judgment that has the
same effect as a judgment rendered after a trial.
The judgment in this case recites
that Carnival has violated section 71204(a) of the Ballast Water
Management for Control of Nonindigenous Species Act. Moreover, the
judgment contains a prohibitory injunction that prohibits Carnival
from continuing to violate the provisions of the Act. The injunction
is in place for one year but may be extended for another year if the
Court deems it necessary.
The Environmental Law Foundation,
Bluewater Network, San Diego BayKeeper, and the Surfrider Foundation
sued Carnival, Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean cruise
lines under California’s Unfair Competition Law in Los Angeles
Superior Court. Using records from the California State Lands
Commission, the environmental groups’ lawsuit claimed numerous
violations of state ballast water laws by ships owned by Carnival,
Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean that dock in Los
Angeles, San Francisco, and/or San Diego.
The groups noted that dramatic
cruise industry growth threatens future invasions. More ships are
expected to travel West Coast waters beginning this year as cruise
ships are being repositioned following September 11. Presently,
there are eight major cruise ship lines operating out of California,
involving over 20 vessels. In 2002, there were approximately 280
port calls scheduled by those vessels in the ports of San Diego,
Long Beach/Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Monterey. The cruise
industry estimates a 25 percent increase in the number of vessels
that will operate in the waters of the State over the next ten
Carnival Cruise Line pleaded
guilty in April 2002 to illegally dumping oily waters and falsifying
records, paying an $18 million fine. In 1999, Royal Caribbean paid
the second of two multi-million dollar fines to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency for dumping oily waters at sea.