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Carnival Corp. which owns a variety of cruise lines like Carnival and Princess, has been fined $40 million after reaching a settlement with the Department of Justice for illegally dumping human waste from its cruise ships into the ocean.

Carnival Corp. pleaded guilty to seven felony charges for intentionally polluting the ocean. The company had been unloading oily “bilge water” for over 10 years, with the liquid containing anything from grease, chemicals, oil and even human excrement.

Reports say that it wasn’t just a one-off incident, but that the problem was system-wide and had been occurring since 2005. In some cases Caribbean Princess cruises used a device called a “magic pipe,” to evade water-cleaning mechanisms and tools that monitored oil levels.

A whistleblower discovered the system in 2013 and then handed the information to the authorities, which lead to the eventual $40 million fine — the largest punishment of its kind, according to the media.

As part of the plea deal, the company will be audited regularly over the next five years as part of a court supervised environmental compliance plan.

“We’ve dramatically changed our shipboard and shore-side fleet operations, organizational structure and leadership. We invested millions of dollars upgrading our equipment,” said Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz. She also apologized for its actions and said the company has fired or retrained the employees who were responsible for the pollution.

H/T: Gizmodo

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

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