Officers aboard cruise ship issued subpoenas

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2002

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas to officers aboard a Holland America cruise ship in connection to the illegal dumping of about 40,000 gallons of wastewater in to Juneau harbor.

In a financial report, Holland's parent company, Carnival Corp., said one subpoena demands that the cruise line produce documents and that Seattle-based Holland America is complying.

''If the investigation results in charges being filed, a judgment could include, among other forms of relief, fines and debarment from federal contracting, which would prohibit operations in Glacier Bay National Park,'' said Carnival's third-quarter financial filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company noted the investigation in a section outlining legal matters it faces.

The company declined Friday to comment beyond what was in the corporate filing with the government.

Michele Brown, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, said she had not heard about the grand jury investigation but that it did not surprise her. The DEC is conducting its own investigation of what happened on Aug. 17.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Joe Paitl said his agency also is examining the events of that day. The Coast Guard will continue its own investigation separate from that of the Department of Justice and the DEC, Paitl said.

The Juneau harbormaster contacted the Coast Guard on the evening of Aug. 17 to report that a brown-colored discharge was flowing from the Ryndam. Coast Guard officials responded and took samples. They identified the discharge as wastewater from sinks, showers and the ship's sewage system.

Coast Guard officials said it appears that Ryndam crew members were transferring waste into a holding tank that overflowed and spilled into Juneau's Gastineau Channel through a vent.

Holland America initially estimated the spill at 250 gallons.

The company, which sails six ships to Alaska, has recently invested an estimated $12.5 million on advanced systems to clean sewage and wastewater before releasing them into the sea.

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