Federal prosecutors in Alaska are investigating Carnival for possible environmental crimes

A court-appointed monitor found that Carnival Corp. continued to violate environmental regulations during its second year on probation.
A court-appointed monitor found that Carnival Corp. continued to violate environmental regulations during its second year on probation. Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line

Federal prosecutors who focus on environmental crimes in Alaska are investigating Carnival Corporation, the company stated in a court filing this week.

The investigation stems from a September 2018 incident in which Holland America Line’s Westerdam cruise ship illegally dumped around 26,000 gallons of gray water from sinks and showers into Glacier Bay National Park. Cruise ships are prohibited from discharging anything in the park’s boundaries. The state of Alaska fined the company $17,000 last month.

Holland America is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp., the largest cruise company in the world.

In a court filing this week, federal prosecutors in Miami expressed concern that the discharge logs aboard the Westerdam are recorded electronically and not in hard copy. In response, an attorney for the company told the court that the Westerdam-related issues are being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska.

“The matters that the Government refers to in its submission are currently the subject of an investigation by the United States Attorney in the District of Alaska and the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section,” the filing said.

No charges have been filed.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Anchorage has asked questions relating to the discharge of diluted gray water by the Westerdam in Glacier Bay National Park on September 11, 2018,” said Carnival Corp. spokesperson Roger Frizzell in a statement. “We are cooperating fully with that inquiry. We are not aware that any criminal proceedings have been initiated. Separately, we resolved the matter with the State of Alaska for a civil penalty.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Carnival Corp. executives appeared in federal court in Miami on Wednesday for a hearing in an ongoing case regarding unrelated environmental crimes for which Carnival is on probation. U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz urged the company to provide more definitive metrics to measure its pollution so that the court can better track its progress during the remaining two and half years of probation.

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Taylor Dolven covers the tourism industry at the Miami Herald, where she aims to tell stories about the people who work in tourism and the people who enjoy it. Previously, she worked at Vice News in Brooklyn, NY, where she won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of NY for a national investigation of police shootings.