MIAMI -- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has pleaded guilty to dumping oil and hazardous chemicals in U.S. waters off Florida and then lying about it to the Coast Guard.
The plea was one of several that Royal Caribbean agreed to in July to settle charges that it secretly polluted the coastal waters of the United States.
Under the national plea deal, the Miami-based cruise line agreed to pay a record $18 million criminal fine and plead guilty to 21 felony counts in five U.S. cities and in Puerto Rico.
The Miami court hearing is the third in which Royal Caribbean, the second-largest cruise line in the industry, pleaded guilty. The cruise line has already pleaded guilty in New York and Los Angeles.
In Miami, the company was ordered to pay a $3 million criminal fine for dumping waste oil and hazardous chemicals that came from shipboard dry cleaning, photographic developing, and print shops.
The cruise ships used ``secret bypass pipes'' to dump materials overboard, often at night. Ship personnel falsified log books that employees referred to by a Norwegian term meaning ``fairy tale book.''
The largest part of the fine, $6.5 million, is to be paid for pollution violations in coastal waters off Alaska. The other fines are $3 million each in New York and Los Angeles; $1.5 million for St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and $1 million for a pollution violation by San Juan.
Nowadays, ``the company is a much different company environmentally,'' company spokeswoman Lynn Mortenstein said before the recent plea hearing. ``We're confident we've got the people, policies, and the equipment to be an environmentally responsible company.''
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