The maritime lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. are concerned about the effects of cruise ship on pollution on our planet. Just as most other forms of man-made transportation, cruise ships can pose great risks to the environment. Garbage, wastewater and oils are just a few of the harmful pollutants created on board by cruise ships.
All of them are supposed to be disposed of properly, but from time to time, evidence surfaces that makes us wonder how often they are not. According to Friends of the Earth, an environmental protection organization, an extraordinarily high number of cruise lines violate environmental laws – and the problem is only getting worse. The organization evaluates the rate of cruise line emissions for major cruise companies and rates them on an A through F scale. A “Cruise Ship Report Card” is then released, which allows consumers to see which cruise lines pass and which fail. Unfortunately, most scores are abysmal.
Last month, our maritime attorneys blogged about a beach in Brazil that was suffering from what some suspect are the results of cruise line pollution emissions. Turtle Beach, called Praia da Tartaruga in Portuguese, is a public beach, frequented by adults and children alike. When many beach-goers began reporting health issues including gastrointestinal problems and difficulty breathing, the experts argued these were the result of cruise ship emissions that were reaching the waters of the beach. However, after testing water samples, the results were inconclusive.
Now, two undercover videos have come to light which purportedly document an incident which is alleged to have occurred onboard the MSC Magnifica cruise ship and which was allegedly filmed covertly by a former MSC Magnifica cruise ship worker.
In a statement to the Huffington Post, MSC Cruises contends the videos are “another angle” of an incident reported last year by a Brazilian media source that was filmed by a passenger, not a former crew member. According to MSC Cruises, “a full investigation is being conducted into the issue” and “new stringent procedures have been enacted … to further discipline crew members for breaches of the company’s stringent anti-pollution policies.”
The company went on to say that it is “fully collaborating with the Brazilian authorities in order to shed light on the responsibilities and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”
Hopefully, for the sake of both the environment and MSC, the videos do turn out to be fake, especially since MSC FAILED the Friends of the Earth 2013 environmental report card.
There is no question that cruise lines have in the past been caught and punished for breaking EPA pollution laws and there is no question that if they are not caught, it is cheaper for them to pollute than it is to abide by the anti-pollution laws that are on the books. However, the question that does remain is are they still doing it and getting away with it?
Let us hope for the sake of our planet, our own health and pocket book of future cruisers that the answer is NO.