Norweigian Cruise Line pleads guilty in pollution case
MIAMI - Norwegian Cruise Line yesterday joined a growing list of big
cruise lines pleading guilty to U.S. charges arising from the dumping
of oily bilge into the world's seas.
The Miami-based NCL, which is owned by Asia's Star Cruises and has a
fleet of nine ships, including the SS Norway, said it had signed a
plea bargain admitting to a single violation of U.S. anti-pollution
NCL, the world's fourth largest cruise operator, pleaded guilty to
lying in government-required sea logs and agreed to pay a $1 million
fine and to contribute $500,000 to environmental organizations in
Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the company.
Prosecutors said NCL engineers at sea had routinely dumped oily waste
water into oceans, diverting it from passing through a device for
removing filth. In addition, NCL crew falsified logs detailing the
discharges, according to prosecutors.
"NCL has admitted that it engaged in a practice of systematically
lying to the United States Coast Guard over a period of years
regarding the discharge of oil-contaminated bilge waste from the SS
Norway and at least one other ship," the Justice Department said in a
Bigger cross-town rivals Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean have also
pleaded guilty in pollution cases.
Carnival, the biggest cruise group with 43 vessels, in April agreed
to pay $18 million and pleaded guilty to six felony pollution counts.
No. 2 Royal Caribbean paid $27 million in fines and penalties to
settle ocean-dumpling complaints from the late 1990s.
NCL's plea bargain was the seventh conviction of a cruise line on
environmental violations and the third time a fine has been paid by a
cruise line, according to prosecutors.
"The sad fact remains that the practice of dumping waste oil and
maintaining false log books has proved to be commonplace in the
maritime and cruise ship industry," U.S. Assistant Attorney General
Tom Sansonetti said.
The Justice Department said the company had voluntarily brought the
violations to prosecutors two years ago, when they were discovered by
an environmental consultant carrying out an audit for new owners of
NCL. A former employee had already tipped the government, the Justice
Colin Veitch, chief executive of NCL, said his company regretted the
violations and that the cruise line was working hard against
"We took responsibility and fixed the problem, at a very substantial
cost," Veitch said. "We deeply regret the past actions we found upon
our purchase of NCL."
Prosecutors said seven senior NCL staff had resigned or been
dismissed during the inquiries, which were continuing with an eye to
possibly bringing charges against unnamed individuals.
Story by Michael Connor
Story Date: 1/8/2002