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We discovered that some of our employees intentionally violated our policies and broke environmental law when they bypassed our bilge water treatment system and discharged untreated bilge water into the ocean. This was reported to the British maritime authorities, the U.S. Coast Guard and, subsequently, the U.S. Department of Justice, triggering a three-year-long investigation. Our headquarter management cooperated with the DOJ which, in the course of its investigation, discovered other areas where we were operating out of policy and in violation of environmental law. We reached a plea agreement with the DOJ, and will pay a substantial fine.
What other violations were found?
The investigation also found that there were issues with our oily water record book keeping and the handling of gray water overflows. All violations have since been corrected.
How long had the improper waste water practices been occurring?
The initial incident that was brought to our attention occurred in August 2013, however in the course of the investigation it was discovered that some of the violations date back to 2005.
How could this have happened, and why would your employees do this?
We believe these actions were taken to save time and that those involved thought they were saving the company money, but since they violated our policies and the law it was not savings we incentivized, directed, nor approved. The senior officers involved have been fired.
We are deeply disappointed that our employees independently took these actions, and it became apparent through the investigation that, although we had policies and procedures in place, oversight of environmental compliance was inadequate.
How much bilge water was discharged and what was the environmental impact?
Although bilge water typically contains only a small amount of oil, the investigation conducted by us and the DOJ could not determine the amount of oil in the untreated bilge water. Any amount of bilge water discharge with more than the legal limit of 15 parts per million of oil is unacceptable, in violation of our policies and international law.
What have you done to ensure compliance and accountability going forward?
In the past three years, since becoming aware of these violations, we have taken a number of important actions to improve our oversight and compliance. We completely restructured our fleet operations department including hiring new leadership. We have also increased the scope and frequency of our environmental compliance training, and have invested millions of dollars to upgrade our equipment to the highest international standard.
We care about the environment. Can we feel good about sailing with Princess Cruises?
Princess cares deeply about the oceans and marine environment, and we are very sorry for this violation of environmental law. We want our guests to know that we are using this experience to further improve how we operate to protect and preserve the oceans. With the steps we have and will continue to take to improve our compliance we commit to setting a high standard for environmental excellence and responsibility.
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