State to investigate Norwegian Cruise Line

Posted: Thursday, August 01, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Alaska attorney general's office will investigate whether the Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd. committed any illegal activity in Alaska waters.

In its $1.5 million plea agreement Wednesday with federal prosecutors, Norwegian admitted lying to the Coast Guard about dumping oily waste off the Florida coast and keeping false logbooks to cover it up.

Although the plea gives the cruise line immunity on federal charges of maintaining illegal logbooks, it doesn't preclude the possibility of state charges.

Alaska assistant attorney general Craig Tillery said the state has yet to determine whether further action against Norwegian is warranted. The attorney general's office is also considering similar action against Carnival Corp., which in April pleaded guilty in Miami to criminal charges of falsifying logbooks and dumping untreated bilge waste into the ocean.

''The state has not foreclosed the possibility of looking to Carnival's activities in Alaskan waters,'' Tillery said.

The state sued Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for illegal dumping of oil and chemicals in Alaska water. The suit resulted in a $3.5 million settlement Royal Caribbean agreed to pay in January 2000. The company was put on probation and barred from entering Glacier Bay National Park near Juneau for several years.

National Park Service officials said Wednesday that Carnival will be prohibited from entering Glacier Bay after its permits expire in 2004 and that Norwegian ships likely will be banned too. Federal rules bar the government from doing business with convicted felons.

Holland America ships, owned by Carnival, will not be affected, said Kevin Apgar, concession program manager for the Park Service.

The Norwegian settlement is the latest in a series of cruise-ship pollution cases in Alaska, Florida, California and other states and the Caribbean. It is part of a federal crackdown on cruise lines that has resulted in multiple convictions.

In response to public pressure and high-profile pollution incidents, Alaska legislators met in special session last summer and passed a law giving state officials authority to regulate cruise ship discharges.

Since cruise ship pollution became a national issue, many of the companies have invested millions of dollars to upgrade their wastewater treatment systems and reduce air emissions.

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