Hawaiian Pollution Bill Aimed at Cruise Operators

Cruise line operator executives could face three years in prison and a $25,000 per day fine, if they knowingly discharge waste into Hawaii's waters, under the provisions of a bill that is now before the legislature. That's only for the first offense.

Hawaii and the North West Cruise Ship Association currently have a "memorandum of understanding" between them, which includes standards for waste water management and an agreement from cruise operators not to release wastewater within four nautical miles of locations where Hawaii's waters drop to 600 feet. The memorandum does not allow the state to legally go after violators.

The bill is being pushed by the Hawaiian House Transportation Committee, and it creates more onerous punishment for a second violation. A second violation will include six years in prison and $50,000 per day fine, or both.

The state Health Department is aware of only two discharge violations in the last twelve months; one was a mile out of Hilo in October and the other was last month near Honolulu. Currently, NCL America, the Norwegian Cruise Line's U.S. subsidiary, is the primary cruise operator in Hawaii.

Robert Kritzman, Executive Vice President for NCL, said that he agreed that violators should be responsible when damage is done to the environment, and that his company would be interested in negotiating penalties to be included in the memorandum, in order to avoid legislation.