On October 9, 2002 as the Crystal Cruises' Crystal Harmony left Monterey, California she discharged about 36,400 gallons of wastewater in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a sea otter refuge off the coast of Big Sur, California.
This information was not forth coming until February 27, 2003. Michael W. Coleman, a company spokesman, said it was only reported as part of a quarterly report requested by state water regulators.
Asked why the incident had not been acknowledged earlier, Mr. Coleman said there was "no requirement to report it." The response is typical of an industry that stands by their number one policy on the environment, "If They Don't Ask, Don't Tell".
Coleman tried to act like this kind of thing never happens, as the cruise industry is very environmentally conscientious. Their record however, even in 2002, did not reflect that.
In November 2001, Crystal was one of six cruise lines that agreed to settlements of $41,250 to $247,500 for a variety of charges concerning excessive smokestack emissions off Juneau, Alaska.
From 1993 to 1998, cruise lines paid more than $30 million in fines for 87 illegal discharges of trash, oil and hazardous wastes in United States waters.
Because they had been so dirty, the year before this incident, Monterey made Crystal and two other cruise lines agree in writing prior to their visits that they would not dump trash or discharge any dirty or contaminated water into the 5,322-square-mile sanctuary, which is home to 27 species of whales, dolphins and other marine mammals. It wasn't like they didn't know.
"Crystal Harmony will observe a no-discharge policy in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in conjunction with the October 9, 2002 visit, this policy will apply to all wastewater, ballast water, water discharged through the oily water separator, and all forms of solid waste", penned Joseph L. Valenti, the company's senior vice president for marine operations, prior to the planned visit.
Then, his ship gets far enough off shore, 14 miles, that nobody will notice after the Monterey visit and dischrages about 34,078 gallons of gray water, 264 gallons of treated black water, and 2,118 gallons of processed bilge water, the company said.
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