Cruise Lines Sued for Polluting Waters near California

April 25, 2002

Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and other cruise-ship operators are being sued by environmental groups who claim the companies improperly dump water along California's coast, reports Joyzelle Davis of Bloomberg News.

The Surfrider Foundation, Environmental Law Foundation, and other groups claim the cruise liners discharge ballast water — which is pumped into the bottom of a ship to keep it balanced at sea — in violation of California law. The practice imperils ecosystems by introducing non-native species, the groups claim.

Filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the suit seeks a court order forcing Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and P&O Princess Cruises PLC to comply with a 1999 law that prohibits dumping ballast water within 200 miles of the coast. It also seeks disgorgement of the alleged profits from the practice into an environmental fund.

Tim Gallagher, spokesman for Miami-based Carnival, told Davis officials at the world's largest cruise-ship operator hadn't seen the suit and couldn't comment. Royal Caribbean, the second-largest cruise line, also declined to comment, and London-based P&O Princess Cruises couldn't be reached to comment.

Ships arriving from international waters are required under California law to dump ballast water at least 200 miles offshore. The environmentalists claim it is cheaper for the cruise lines to hug the coastline and not deviate from their route into deep water.

Last week, Carnival pleaded guilty to federal charges of ocean pollution and agreed to pay $18 million in penalties.

Royal Caribbean paid fines of $18 million in July 1999 and another $9 million in 1998 for pollution violations.

Source: Bloomberg News