Florida-Based Cruise Line Convicted of Illegal Dumping
Illegal dumping is a rapidly-growing problem that’s having a disastrous impact on our environment. In 2017, the world’s largest cruise line made national headlines for allegedly committing severe environmental violations involving the illegal disposal of waste and other atrocities. U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz published a 205-page report detailing more than 800 incidents and 24 criminal acts by the cruise line during the first year (April 2017-April 2018) of their 5-year probation.
From mishandling sewage, dumping oil and food waste, and striking whales, the cruise line’s most recent public relations disaster began in 2016. That’s when one of their most successful subsidiaries, pleaded guilty to seven felony charges and agreed to a $40 million fine for illegally dumping waste and attempting to cover it up over the span of eight years. Other incidents involved illegally burning heavy fuel oil in protected areas, dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of gray water, and even dumping furniture overboard. (1)
Early in 2019, the Miami-based cruise line was fined an additional $20 million for discharging plastic waste into Bahamian waters, falsifying training records on two ships, and preparing ships for court-ordered audits to hide violations, breaching the terms of their probation. (2) They pleaded guilty to six probation violations and were placed under more stringent oversight for the remainder of the probation period. The terms of the settlement between the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and the subsidiary cruise lines apply to all nine of their brands and more than 100 ships worldwide. (3)
After multiple court appearances and fines, today they are making an effort to curb their use of plastics and sticking to eco-friendly methods of dumping waste. They have partnered with world-famous ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau and his non-profit marine conservation organization, the Ocean Futures Society, to find innovative solutions to single-use plastics, food waste, and more. (4)
What’s the big deal about illegal dumping?
Environmental abuses like illegal dumping can wreak havoc among communities, costing taxpayers millions to clean up. Whether dumping takes place in the ocean, our cities’ sewers, or on land, environmental crimes like illegal dumping affect everyone.
Illegal dumping has skyrocketed nationwide, and in Florida, particular areas like the Florida Keys are especially vulnerable. A person may commit the crime in the following ways:
- Dumping waste on public or private property;
- Dumping waste without a license or permit into sewers and waterways;
- Allowing another person to dump waste on your land without having a license to receive waste.
Anyone who must dump excessive quantities of waste should look into federal laws designed to protect the environment, such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. These laws have complex permitting requirements and apply to massive amounts of waste.
When is illegal dumping a misdemeanor or felony in Florida?
What you dump, where you dump, and how much and how often you dump all play into whether your charge will be a misdemeanor or felony if you get caught. If you dump hazardous waste, and/or you have committed prior offenses, you can expect more serious charges.
Under Florida State Statute 403.413, dumping more than 500 pounds for commercial purposes or dumping hazardous waste is a third-degree felony offense punishable by a fine of $5,000, 5 years in prison, and community service. You can also be sentenced to reparations for damaged property and injured parties. Depending on your case, the court may also order your vehicle to be impounded.
Get Yourself an Experienced Environmental Crimes Defense Team
Environmental agencies won’t hesitate to accuse you of state and/or federal crimes if they suspect you’ve committed a crime like illegal dumping. If you’re under investigation for an environmental offense like dumping, you need a team of aggressive defense lawyers on your case.
Orlando’s Umansky Law Firm is recognized as one of Florida’s Legal Elite. Our team has more than 100 years of combined experience defending misdemeanor and felony offenses at the state and federal level throughout Central Florida. We will guide you on the best course of action to take to help you avoid the worst possible outcome of an illegal dumping charge. Call our office or complete this contact form to receive a free consultation.