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Cruise lines sued

Groups to sue cruise lines over pollution

Jul 02, 2008

NEW YORK - Two Alaska groups say cruise ships are denying state inspectors access to pollution control equipment and personnel, and they intend to sue offending companies.

Responsible Cruising in Alaska and Campaign to Safeguard America's Waters on Tuesday filed a 45-day notice of intent to sue, and they're taking aim at two of the dominant lines.

The groups claim Holland America and Princess Cruises have not provided adequate access to inspectors, called Alaska Ocean Rangers.

The two groups cited a June 23 report by Paul Johnson, Ocean Ranger manager for the state's contractor, Crowley Marine Service. In the report, Johnson writes Holland America and Princess Cruises appear to have adopted internal guidelines on how to restrict and control inspectors' observations.

Gershon Cohen of Haines, who helped draft a citizens' initiative that set up the program of inspectors, said cruise lines should be welcoming them on board.

"If they're not doing anything wrong, if they are adequately treating their wastewater, if they are properly maintaining their equipment, if they are keeping their log books honest, why wouldn't they want the rangers there to independently verify that they are following the law?" Cohen said Tuesday.

Messages left with Holland America and Princess corporate offices after business hours Tuesday were not immediately returned. Their parent company is Carnival Corp.

Alaska voters in 2006 approved the ballot initiative that addressed cruise ship issues. One provision required ships to allow state marine engineers to oversee pollution control practices.

The groups, again quoting Johnson's report, said 10 of the 28 ships operating in Alaska were not providing sufficient access to equipment and ship personnel. Nine were Holland America or Princess ships.

"I believe Alaskans will be offended when they learn that some cruise ships feel they have the right to restrict what and when the ranger is allowed to observe," Johnson wrote. "These practices will likely be interpreted by the public as an attempt to hide something."

The law gives citizens the right to sue after giving 45 days notice to the Alaska departments of Law and Environmental Conservation. The groups did so Tuesday.

Chip Thoma of Responsible Cruising in Alaska called actions by industry leaders Holland America and Princess "disappointing but not surprising."

"These are the cruise lines that have fought the most against these laws," he said.

Groups to sue cruise lines over pollution

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