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Monterey says goodbye to cruise ships

Monterey says goodbye to cruise ships

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From The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The city of Monterey has bid a cold bon voyage to the cruise ship Crystal Harmony, stating publicly that the vessel is no longer welcome there after the ship's operators admitted dumping bilge water in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in October.

The dirty discharge wasn't illegal, but the Monterey city officials said Tuesday the action violated a written agreement between Monterey and Crystal Cruises that no such discharges would take place within the sanctuary boundaries.

"This is a very serious incident. While we appreciate that Crystal has been forthcoming in reporting the dumping and has taken disciplinary actions, there is no doubt that they have violated their agreement with the City," said Carl Anderson, Monterey's director of public facilities.

"As a result, the 'Crystal Harmony' is no longer welcome in the City of Monterey," Anderson said.

The discharge of processed bilge water, gray water and treated black water occurred on the evening of Oct. 9 last year as the Crystal Harmony cruised within the boundaries of the sanctuary, Crystal Cruises acknowledged in a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board and provided to The Associated Press by the city of Monterey.

Crystal Cruises said in the letter it had fired the ship's chief officer and gave warnings to the captain and a junior officer as a result of the incident.

"Crystal Cruises sincerely apologizes for the incident and truly regrets that vessel personnel did not comply with the firm instructions given them with respect to the call in Monterey," said Joseph Valenti, vice president of marine operations for Crystal Cruises, in the letter.

Crystal Cruises operates two 940-guest luxury ships, the Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony. A third ship, the 1,080-guest Crystal Serenity, is scheduled to enter service in June 2003. The company is owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo.

The discharge from the Crystal Harmony occurred 14 miles off the coast of Big Sur and consisted of 34,078 gallons of gray water, 264 gallons of treated black water and 2,118 gallons of processed bilge water.

Though the cruise line maintains no laws were violated with respect to the discharges, the city of Monterey said it had not independently determined whether any violation of Sanctuary or federal rules had occurred.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a federally protected marine area stretching from Marin to Cambria and encompasses 5,322 square miles of ocean.

It supports one of the worlds most diverse marine ecosystems and is home to numerous seabirds, fishes, invertebrates and plants.

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