Carnival faces pollution probe

Grand jury calls for cruise lines' records

Posted: Tuesday, October 17, 2000

MIAMI - A cruise company that sends ships to Juneau says it has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to provide company documents about environmental practices on all its ships.

The subpoena suggests Miami-based cruise giant Carnival Cruise Line could be the target of a continuing pollution investigation similar to one that resulted in a conviction and fine of rival Royal Caribbean.

"At present we know very little about why the subpoena came to us and what the U.S. attorney is looking for," the company said in a prepared statement. "Once that becomes apparent, we may be able to comment further."

Carnival disclosed the subpoena as part of its quarterly report to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. The subpoena, received in August, mentioned all six Carnival brands, including Holland America, Windstar, Costa, Cunard, and Seabourn.

Carnival sent one ship through Juneau last summer, the Jubilee, with 20 stops scheduled. Subsidiary Holland America Line sent six ships Nieu Amsterdam, Ryndam, Statendam, Veendam, Volendam and Westerdam with a combined 119 stops scheduled.

Carnival did not report which ships were under investigation. No details were available about the regions, such as Alaska or the Caribbean, where environmental practices were in question. Federal officials generally do not comment about details of such investigations.

Miami-based Royal Caribbean pleaded guilty in July of 1999 to charges related to dumping waste in the Caribbean and the Pacific, including waters near Juneau and Haines. The company was fined $18 million. That came after the company paid $9 million after pleading guilty to similar charges in 1998.

Following the Royal Caribbean case, officials with the Justice Department's environmental crimes unit said they would keep looking into possible cruise ship pollution.

Holland America agreed in a 1998 plea bargain to pay $2 million in fines for pumping untreated bilge water into Alaska waters.

Six cruise lines got state notices earlier this year that some of their ships violated state air-quality standards, but it wasn't known if those cases were related to the federal subpoena.

Also earlier this year, Carnival and Holland America were cited by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for violating air pollution standards. The EPA recommended $110,000 in civil fines for Princess Cruises and a $55,000 penalty against Norwegian Cruise Line for similar violations in August.

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