March 7, 2003

Monterey dumps cruise ship
The City of Monterey, California, issued a statement March 4 saying that the cruise ship Crystal Harmony "is no longer welcome in the City of Monterey."

The statement came after the city learned that the Crystal Cruises' ship, which visited Monterey on Oct. 9, 2002, discharged within the boundaries of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

City of Monterey Director of Public Facilities Carl Anderson issued the following statement: "This is a very serious incident. While we appreciate that Crystal has been forthcoming in reporting the dumping and has taken disciplinary actions, there is no doubt that they have violated their agreement with the City. As a result, the Crystal Harmony is no longer welcome in the City of Monterey."

This discharge, although apparently not illegal under any State or Federal law, did violate a written agreement that the City of Monterey had with Crystal stating that the ship would not discharge anything while within the boundaries of the sanctuary.

"According to Crystal Cruises," says the city statement, "the discharge occurred as the ship was leaving the Sanctuary at a speed of approximately 20.5 knots, southwest of Monterey about 14 miles off the northern Big Sur coast. The company states that the discharge consisted of 129 cubic meters of gray water (approximately 34,078 U.S. gallons), 1 cubic meter of treated black water (approximately 264 U.S. gallons) and 8 cubic meters (approximately 2,118 U.S. gallons) of processed bilge water. As reported, no ballast water was released."

Crystal Cruises representative Joseph L. Valenti, in a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Water Quality, apologized for the incident. According to the letter, the infraction not only violates the commitments the company made to the City of Monterey, but it also violated Crystal Cruises' own corporate environmental policy. Immediately following Crystal's investigation, the Chief Officer, who was primarily responsible for the occurrence, was terminated and two other senior officers, including the Captain and a Junior Officer, were censured and given final warnings.

The city statement says that while Crystal Cruises maintains that no laws or government regulations were violated in the discharge, "the city has not independently determined whether any violation of Sanctuary or other federal rules might have occurred."

Crystal Cruises has issued a statement saying that: "Regrettably, on October 9, 2002, despite explicit written and verbal orders to the contrary Crystal Harmony discharged appropriately treated wastewater while the ship was in transit and crossed within a portion of the boundaries of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This unfortunate incident took place approximately 14 miles off shore. (Maritime laws allow discharges of even untreated blackwater more than 12 miles off shore.) While this did not violate any maritime law, it did violate a pre-existing commitment we made to the City of Monterey, as well as our own corporate environmental policy."

"It is Crystal Cruises' policy," continues the statement, "to not discharge in any marine sanctuary--worldwide. Crystal takes its obligations to preserving the environment very seriously and we have been lauded for our efforts. We have made it very clear to all personnel that any infractions of this policy, or any other environmental policies, will result in the immediate dismissal of those individuals involved."

"As evidence of our environmental commitment," says the statement, "immediately following our own internal investigation of this matter, we terminated the Chief Officer, who was primarily responsible for the occurrence of this unfortunate incident. In addition, two other senior officers, including the Captain, and a junior officer, were censured and given final warnings. Additionally, we have reiterated to our crew that if laws or regulations are violated in connection with any such incident, Crystal Cruises will fully cooperate with investigating officials. As no laws or government regulations were violated in this incident, no reports of the discharges were made to authorities. However, as soon as the California State Water Resources Control Board requested information about our visit to Monterey, we supplied detailed information regarding our location and the cubic feet of wastewater regrettably released."

The cruise line's statement says the "incident is particularly disturbing to us given our aggressive company-wide environmental education program, which includes onboard training, monthly environmental meetings held in our corporate office and on each of the ships, monthly useful environmental tips that are distributed to employees for home use, and environmental updates featured in each of our quarterly employee newsletters."

Crystal Cruises concludes by saying it "sincerely apologizes for the incident and truly regrets that vessel personnel did not comply with the firm instructions given them with respect to the call in Monterey."

Recommend This Page
Enter an email address