The British engineer who reported illegal discharges of oil-contaminated waste from a Princess Cruises ship was awarded $1m related to the line’s $40 million dollar pollution penalty.US District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in Miami ordered that $1m go to the engineer who reported the illegal discharges to the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which in turn provided the evidence to the US Coast Guard.
The recently hired engineer on Caribbean Princess reported that a so-called ‘magic pipe‘ had been used on Aug. 23, 2013, to illegally discharge oily waste off the coast of England without the use of required pollution prevention equipment. The evidence from the whistleblower, including photographs of the magic pipe, led to an inspection of the cruise ship both in England and when it reached New York on Sept. 14, 2013. During each of the separate inspections certain crew members concealed the illegal activity by lying to the authorities in accordance with orders they had received from Caribbean Princess engineering officers.
The US Department of Justice case found illegal practices took place on five Princess ships—Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess.
In addition to the record $40m fine for criminal pollution, Princess will remain on probation for five years and during that time all the ships of parent company Carnival Corp. & plc trading in the US will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan that includes independent audits by an outside company and oversight by a court-appointed monitor.
Princess has already taken various corrective actions, including upgrading the oily water separators and oil content monitors on every ship in its fleet and instituting many new policies.
‘Without the courageous act of a junior crew member to alert authorities to these criminal behaviors of deliberately dumping oil at sea, the global environmental damage caused by the Princess fleet could have been much worse,’ said Rear Adm. Scott Buschman, commander of the USCG Seventh District. ‘The selflessness of this individual exposed five different ships that embraced a culture of shortcuts, and I am pleased at this outcome.’
$10m of the $40m penalty imposed by the court is earmarked for community service projects to benefit the maritime environment. $3m of the community service payments will go to environmental projects in South Florida, and $1m will go for projects to benefit the marine environment in UK waters.
Additionally, $1m will be deposited in the Abandoned Seafarers Fund, a fund established to provide a mechanism for USCG to offer humanitarian relief and support of seafarers who are abandoned in the US and are witnesses to maritime-related crimes.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers