Holland America Line operating
company agrees to plead guilty to illegal discharge of 20,000
gallons of untreated sewage into Juneau Harbor
December 08, 2004
Anchorage, Alaska - Rear Admiral James C. Olson, Commander 17th
United States Coast Guard District, Timothy Burgess, United States
Attorney for the District of Alaska, and Thomas V. Skinner, Acting
Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
announced Tuesday that HAL Maritime Ltd ("HAL"), an
Operating Company of Holland America Line Cruise Ships, has agreed
to plead guilty to federal criminal charges arising out of the
negligent discharge of 20,000 gallons of untreated sewage into
Juneau harbor from the cruise ship Ryndam in August 2002.
Coast Guard 17th
District Commander Rear Adm. James Olson, left, and
Timothy Burgess, United States Attorney for the District of Alaska
announced Tuesday that HAL Maritime Ltd, an operating company of
Holland America Line, agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal
charges arising from the negligent discharge of 20,000 gallons
of untreated sewage into Juneau harbor from the cruise ship Ryndam
Aug. 17, 2002.
Official U.S. Coast Guard photo
by Petty Officer Thomas McKenzie
The United States Attorney's
Office for the District of Alaska filed criminal charges
against HAL under a federal law passed in 2000 that makes it
a crime for cruise ships to discharge untreated sewage into the
waters surrounding Alaska.
Seeking to resolve the federal charges, HAL entered into a plea
agreement with the United States in which it accepts responsibility
for causing 20,000 gallons of untreated sewage to be discharged
from the cruise ship Ryndam while it was docked in Juneau on
August 17, 2002.
HAL has admitted that the discharge was caused by its failure
to implement adequate operational controls, impose proper training
requirements, and develop thorough response measures to prevent,
timely detect and properly report the release of untreated sewage.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, HAL will plead guilty
to negligently discharging untreated sewage and pay the statutory
maximum $200,000 fine. HAL will also perform community restitution
by paying an additional $500,000 to the National Forest Foundation,
a non-profit organization, for use in reducing the amount of
untreated sewage and other pollutants that enter the watersheds
and coastal environment of Southeast Alaska.
In addition to a fine and community service, the plea agreement
also requires HAL to spend an additional $1.3 million to implement
a Focused Environmental Compliance Plan that mandates new environmental
safeguards, improved systems and more comprehensive training
onboard all of Holland America's fleet of cruise ships.
Under the Compliance Plan, independent auditors will be hired
to evaluate and monitor the operations of all of Holland America's
cruise ships and to report problems to the United States. After
pleading guilty, Holland America will be placed on probation,
and be under the further supervision of the United States Probation
Office, for a term of three years.
The investigation into the incident began when a local Juneau
citizen reported observing a suspicious discharge from a cruise
ship on the evening of August 17, 2002. The discharge was reported
to the ship but the crew failed to properly respond, according
to the plea agreement.
When the discharge continued, investigators from both the United
States Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Environmental
Conservation were contacted and quickly responded to begin an
investigation into the cause of the discharge.
Joined by agents from the United States Environmental Protection
Agency, a team of investigators and prosecutors worked together
to conduct a comprehensive investigation into how the discharged
occurred, why it continued, and how the crew responded.
United States Attorney Burgess said "My office is committed
to enforcing the
environmental laws to insure the health and safety of the people
Alaska and to preserve the pristine nature of our coastal environment."
Rear Admiral James C. Olson stated "The Coast Guard's marine
safety mission can be best summarized as 'protecting people from
the sea, and the sea from people.' We all need to continue working
as a team to ensure Alaska's waters remain clean."
His comments were supported by EPA Acting Administrator for Enforcement
and Compliance Assurance Thomas V. Skinner, who said "We
are committed to protecting Alaska's irreplaceable marine environment.We
will not allow marine industries to foul our waters.
In addition to paying a significant fine, HAL will be required
to improve the wastewater systems on all its ships to help prevent
This case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office
in Alaska, in conjunction with EPA regional counsel. Holland
America is scheduled to plead guilty in this case on December
13, 2004 at 11:00 am in Federal Court in Juneau.
Charges are merely accusations
and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial
or a plea of guilty is accepted by the court.
Source of News, Photo &
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