MIAMI – The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that Carnival's Princess Cruise Lines will pay a $40 million as part of a plea agreement and penalty that a Miami federal judge will have to approve.
Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said the penalty was the largest of its kind. Princess Cruise Lines, which has 17 ships and it's based out of California, also plead guilty to seven felony charges.
""This is a company that knew better and should have done better," John Cruden, assistant attorney general for the environmental division, said in a statement.
The case began after a whistle-blower engineer tipped off authorities. The company admitted ships were polluting the seas with oily bilge waste coming from the ship's engines that they were supposed to have taken to a waste facility.
In one case, they did it with the help of a "magic pipe" designed to circumvent sensors meant to prevent pollution, according to investigators.
"Our open seas are not dumping grounds for waste," Ferrer said during a press conference.
Investigators said the ship dumped waste in Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
Investigators also tracked the pollution back to 2005 and reported it also happened in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Princess released a statement apologizing and promising to take additional steps to ensure they meet all of the environmental requirements. The plea agreement also applies to Princess' parent company, Miami-based Carnival Corp., which will run an environmental program on all of its 78 cruise ships.