South Texas looking into cruise port

Carnival Freedom, front, is docked in 2016 at the Port of Galveston. A recent report asserts the Freedom discharged 123,368 gallons of “treated black water/sewage” and 1,637 gallons of food waste in Bahaman waters in June 2017.


Carnival Corp. cruise ships repeatedly dumped waste into the ocean and lied to federal regulators about its actions despite being on probation for breaking environmental laws, according to a report published Tuesday by the Miami Herald.

The details of the dumping came from a monitoring report released by a federal judge overseeing Carnival’s probation for a 2016 pollution conviction.

U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz, of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida, has threatened to block Carnival ships from docking at U.S. ports because of its alleged actions during its probation.

The report has caught the attention of Galveston port officials, who say they expect to be briefed on what the consequences of Carnival’s actions might be for Galveston, a city Carnival calls a homeport.

The newly released data, which was collected and shared by the Miami newspaper, records more than 800 environmental compliance problems from April 2017 to April 2018, and includes incidents during which ships that sailed from Galveston dumped sewage, food waste or oil.

For example, the report asserts Carnival Freedom, a cruise ship sailing from Galveston since 2015, discharged 123,368 gallons of “treated black water/sewage” and 1,637 gallons of food waste in Bahaman waters in June 2017.

The report also details smaller incidents of dumping, including times when crew members and passengers dropped telephones, ID cards, radios, purses and boarding passes off the ships and into the water.

None of the reported waste dumping happened within the Galveston Ship Channel, according to the data. An incident in which a passenger dropped a boarding pass overboard did happen at the Galveston port, according to the report.

The environmental compliance report was written by a Washington D.C. attorney appointed to oversee Carnival Corp. after it pleaded guilty to illegal dumping and a coverup in 2016.

The company paid a $40 million fine and agreed to five years probation, according to Miami Herald.

All of the new dumping incidents were unintentional, according to the compliance report, which also stated the company had been cooperating with court-ordered restrictions.

But it also said the company’s investigation into environmental compliance issues was “critically flawed.”

In a statement to the Herald, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said the company would continue to attempt to meet the terms of its probation.

“Our environmental responsibility has been and remains a top priority for the company,” he said. “Our aspiration is to leave the places we touch even better than when we first arrived.

“This is in the best interest of our guests, our company and the oceans upon which we travel. We look forward to clarifying any issues and demonstrating our commitment.”

Still, Seitz has taken a harsh tone with Carnival officials and as recently as last week said she regretted not being able to send executives to jail, according to the Herald.

She is set to decide in June whether the new report about violations means Carnival violated its probation. After that, she would decide whether to block Carnival ships from U.S. ports, the judge said.

One member of the Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees said she expected port Director Rodger Rees to brief the board about what Carnival’s travails might mean for Galveston.

Trustee Elizabeth Beeton said she expected Rees to deliver an update during the board’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

Three Carnival Corp. ships — the Freedom, Valor and Vista — travel out of Galveston to ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, Jamaica, Belize and Honduras.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


(6) comments

Gary Scoggin

Since the ships are not US flagged, I am curious as to how US courts have jurisdiction outside US waters. (But, then again, admiralty law is kinda weird). I’m sure Carnival ships are obligated to follow International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations which do prohibit this sort of thing.

Gary Miller

These ships generate as much waste as small cities. Where does it go? Hundreds of tons of food and drink is loaded before each sailing. Replacing what was consumed on last trip. It must be unloaded as waste somewhere. WHERE?

Miceal O'Laochdha

Gary, in accordance with International Law (Marpol Regulations), all ships (including Flag of Convenience registries like Panama, Bahamas, Marshall Islands, Cyprus, Vanuatu, Liberia etc.) must maintain a detailed Garbage Log Book, identifying exactly how much garbage was disposed of and where it occurred (name of Port or at sea). This Log Book is sighted by Port State Control Inspectors (in the US, that is the Coast Guard) during PSC Inspections, and also by RO Auditors during external ISM Audits of the vessel and the record is compared against stores taken aboard. ISM Code (also International Law) requires the ship's cognizant shoreside Port Engineer or Vessel Manager to review the Garbage Log Book during mandated periodic Ship Manager attendances, and also during the Internal ISM Audits required by Law. And... records of these Log Book sightings must be maintained in the home office where they are again reviewed by the RO during external ISM Audits of the company for their required Certificate of Compliance. In other words, there should be no mystery where the garbage goes nor how much of it, and multiple managers and inspectors have access to, and are required to sight, these records. Should violations of Marpol Regulations be identified, the responsibility for accurate Garbage Log Book entries falls on the Master and, to a follow-on extent, to the cognizant shoreside Port Engineer or Vessel Manager. The process is essentially the same for the Oil Record Book, in which is recorded every gallon of any petroleum product brought onboard the ship and every drop removed, whether by consumption or discharge ashore. The Chief Engineer is responsible to maintain the ORC and over last few decades, numerous foreign-flag Captains and Chiefs have arrested and criminally prosecuted in the US for failure to maintain an accurate ORC. that is legalese for having pumped oil overboard illegally in US waters. Hope this is helpful to your question.

Gary Scoggin

Thanks, Miceal, very helpful.

Kelly Naschke

Nicest, that wasn’t just helpful, that was a lesson. You learn something new every day. Thanks

Kelly Naschke

Miceal....not nicest. Thanks auto correct.

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