The Holland America Line ship Amsterdam sits at port in Juneau on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. The Amsterdam is one of nine ships that have received Notice of Violations for air opacity issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Holland America Line ship Amsterdam sits at port in Juneau on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. The Amsterdam is one of nine ships that have received Notice of Violations for air opacity issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Alaska negotiating settlements with cruise companies over air, water violations

Violations could breach $40-million Florida settlement

Cruise lines are in talks with the Alaska Department of Law to decide penalties for air quality and wastewater violations that allegedly occurred this summer in Southeast Alaska.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued nine air quality violations and 11 wastewater violations to cruise ships in September. DEC then handed over evidence of violations to the Department of Law, which has the authority to levy any fines.

[Air violations issued to eight cruise ships]

Right now, State of Alaska attorneys are in the middle of settlement negotiations, environmental attorneys told the Empire. The amount cruise ships may pay depends on internal DEC policies, which are in turn based on EPA regulations and Alaska statute.

“My department has proposed settlements which has included penalties for cruise ship air quality violations and water quality violations that occurred this summer,” said state Environmental Attorney Cameron Jimmo.

The settlements could include fines as high as high as $37,500 for each violation of air quality regulations. The maximum penalty for a water quality violation, at least in program history, is $65,000, according to DEC program manager Ed White.

Attorneys are now in closed-door talks with cruise lines over how hefty those fines may be. Jimmo said he couldn’t go into detail, but he did confirm that he’s in contact with ship operators.

Negotiations could take into account information the state didn’t have at the time of the violation. Operational quirks or other circumstances might change the picture, Jimmo said.

On Oct. 5, Alaska attorneys started the settlement process by issuing letters to Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Carribbean Cruise Lines. Holland America and Princess Cruise Lines received initial settlement papers on Oct. 5, according to DEC.

The negotiations could affect a $40-million settlement reached between Princess Cruise Lines and a Florida federal court. In 2016, Princess pleaded to charges of conspiracy to knowingly discharge oily bilge water in violation of U.S. law. To cover up the discharges, Princess fudged ship records, according to the plea agreement.

The $40-million fine is considered the largest-ever criminal penalty for deliberate vessel pollution, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. As a condition of the settlement, Princess agreed not to violate state, local or federal environmental laws.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida said attorneys have not entered any legal documents alluding to Princess’ violations this summer. A quarterly hearing over the settlement is set for Jan. 3 in Florida.

A full list of ships that received air quality violations includes the Norwegian Jewel (Norwegian Cruise Line), Radiance of the Seas (Royal Caribbean), Amsterdam (Holland America Line), Eurodam (Holland America Line), Nieuw Amsterdam (Holland America Line), Westerdam (Holland American Line), Emerald Princess (Princess Cruise Line) and Golden Princess (Princess Cruise Line).

Princess Cruise Line accrued the most wastewater violations. The Star Princess and the Emerald Princess, both Princess Cruise Line ships, were each cited twice.

Other ships that were issued wastewater discharge violations are the Noordam (Holland America Line), Sojourn (Seabourn Cruise Line), Golden Princess (Princess Cruise Line), Ruby Princess (Princess Cruise Line), Eurodam (Holland America Line), Volendam (Holland America Line) and Island Princess (Princess Cruise Line).


• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


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