THE CITY AND BOROUGH OF JUNEAU, ALASKA
AUGUST 26, 1999
MEETING NO. 99-28: The Special meeting of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, held in Ballroom No. 3 of the Centennial Hall, was called to order at 12:00 p.m. by Mayor Dennis Egan.
Assembly Present: Garrett, MacKinnon, Perkins, Powell, Egan, Hagevig, Muñoz, and Koelsch
Assembly Absent: Kibby
A quorum was present.
Staff Present: Marian Miller, Municipal Clerk; Dave Palmer, City Manager; John Corso, City Attorney; Donna Pierce, Deputy City Manager
Mayor Egan gave a brief overview of how the official special meeting would be conducted. He apologized for the brevity of time allotted for public comment and encouraged members of the audience to provide their questions directly to the Mayorís Office for distribution to the appropriate people. He thanked the President of Royal Caribbean, Jack Williams, for coming to Juneau and agreeing to answer questions about the issues that have this community up in arms, even though Mr. Williams was not president when these actions occurred. Mayor Egan asked how the company could expect Juneau to believe that everything is now "hunky dory" when it obviously was not in 1994 and 1995. He said the citizens of Juneau were outraged by the actions of Royal Caribbean and that they demanded more than a "dog and pony show". The Mayor noted that the federal government is to receive $18M for these violations and that the citizens of this community, where a major portion of the dumping occurred, have received squat. He said it was time for Mr. Williams and his officials to tell the community what would be done to keep the violations from reoccurring and what they intend to offer to the most environmentally friendly capital of all the 50 states. He also noted that the residents of Juneau thrive on the ocean for their livelihood and recreation, and that is the reason most people live here.
Mr. Jack Williams, President of Royal Caribbean International, introduced Nancy Wheatley, Senior Vice President of Safety and the Environment. Ms. Wheatley said she came to the company in 1998 to help him think through their environmental waste management program and determine what needed to be done to advance their environmental preservation. It was mentioned that hey were in Skagway and Haines the night before and that this was his second trip to Alaska. Mr. Williams realized they would not be able to instantaneously make all the bad feelings about their company go away that they would have to, over time, build back their reputation and trust of the citizens of Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Miami, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Juan. He mentioned his first trip to Alaska was after his fatherís death when he and his brother flew into a remote area to fly-fish and was blown away with the beauty and hoped that when he died, his heaven would be Alaska.
Mr. Williams gave a presentation of the things the company had done and what they were investing in. He said he felt that big corporations build their reputations by doing the right things and hoped that over time all their actions would add up to the right thing and that once again Juneau could say they were a great company. He said he knew that no one could say that today, but he wanted to begin the process of informing Juneau of what they intended to do. Mr. Williams said he welcomed the opportunity to be here and looked forward to any comments and understood the anger and is very upset about what happened in 1994 and 1995 and would not distance himself from what happened then, even though he arrived in 1997. He stressed that those acts were inexcusable, they were wrong, they should never have happened and that the company accepts full responsibility. He then offered his sincere apology on behalf of all the employees at Royal Caribbean and himself.
He stated that Ms. Wheatley would be coming forward to give a presentation on their new ABC policy, (Above and Beyond Compliance). He explained that bilge water is the water that collects in the bottom of the ship and that by law that water must be filtered through a separator tank and cannot be discharged unless it reads something less than 50 parts per million. He said they were not satisfied with that and began working with a company who, over a year or so, developed a new technology. Today, on every one of their ships, they are using this technology which allows them to clean the bilge water to something less than 5 parts per million. It processes and purifies the water three times cleaner than is required by law and it is their policy not to discharge anything in excess of 5 parts per million.
The Royal Caribbean bought two new classes of ships. One is being built in France and the other is being built in Germany, and they have invested in gas turbine engines for both. These engines produce emissions that are 80-90% less than that produced by the older diesel electric engines. This is a huge decision on behalf of Royal Caribbean - they are designing the first ship in the cruise industry that will not need a smokestack; that is how environmentally friendly the engines are. Mr. Williams said he was pleased to be able to make that decision on behalf of the company even though it will cost a lot more money to operate those engines; in his opinion, it was worth every penny. The rest of the industry will take note - he was happy to report that Princess Line recently announced a new class of ship and that they too were moving to gas turbine technology.
Since 1997, they have a totally new Marine Operations Department (there is only one person left in Marine Operations since Mr. Williamsí arrival in January 1997) which includes the very highest senior level to the very lowest. Everyone else in the Marine Operations Department, which is responsible for the programs, procedures, and the policy of environmental standards on their ships, is new to the company. He said they have recently put environmental officers in each of their ships to be responsible for the daily oversight of the environmental waste management programs. They are three stripe officers and report directly to the captain of the ship. He said he was not an environmental expert but there were a lot of experts available. He introduced Bill Reilly who, in his opinion, was one of the foremost authorities in environmental law and environmental preservations. Mr. Reilly was the former Director of the EPA, under George Bush, and has joined Royal Caribbean and sits on the board. In addition, he sits on the Board of National Geographic and was the one who suggested he call Nancy Wheatley. He also mentioned Ms. Wheatley is an MIT graduate; she has a law degree and has worked on the sanitation program in Orange County. He said he felt she was one of the few in the country who truly understood the clean water impacts and why you have to manage any kind of operation that may generate waste.
Ms. Wheatley came forward to continue the presentation and to review the remaining slides. She said this was her first trip to Alaska and mentioned she grew up with a passion for the ocean and has spent her life on one coast or the other. She has spent a lot of her professional life working in the clean water area and has had the opportunity to make contributions in Boston, Orange County, California and Washington. Her background included the Boston Harbor Project which, when she started, a person could walk out in the harbor to an ankle depth and not see their toes. When she left, they were able to harvest mussels and could see the bottom in water that was up to their neck. One of the reasons she got involved in Royal Caribbean was that she saw an opportunity to participate in putting an environmental program in place. If there is not a clean ocean, there is not a reason for people to travel to enjoy the beautiful parts of the world - from her perspective the most beautiful parts of the world are the oceans - they matter and need to be protected. She explained that there were approximately 3,500 people on board the ship that they arrived on today and that they have food and beverages, take showers, and produce laundry that involves chemicals. She said the three kinds of waste that they had to deal with were waste waters, solid wastes and air emissions, and that air emission has to do with the diesel engines and once they start using the new gas turbines that will be relieved.
She referred to the overview of the waste stream that was generated and explained how it was dealt with. First is gray water, which includes water from cabin sinks and showers, laundry, Galley, A/C Condensate and Salon. This is the largest waste stream generated on the ship and on a daily basis there is about 700 tons of wastewater. That includes all the wastewater except the black water, which is about 70 tons. 87% of the gray water comes from the cabin sinks and showers. Ms. Wheatley explained that under US and International Law gray water can be discharged anywhere. Their company policy is to only discharge beyond 12 nautical miles in all instances where that is feasible. There are some itineraries, and Alaska happens to be one of them, where it is not possible as they are not outside 12 nautical miles long enough to discharge that amount. Sometimes they have to discharge between 3 and 12 nautical miles. She added that the pollutants from the gray water will have less affect on the marine life if there is more water and that you can, if you discharge near shore, affect the shellfish and other marine life.
She continued with regard to sewage, the way you treat sewage is to let it sit and stuff either floats or sinks, then you either skim it off the top or scrape it off the bottom. On a ship, the wastewater cannot sit for long as they are limited with space, it weighs a lot and it starts to smell. They hope soon to be able to start treating their gray water at sea and discharge only the gray water and land the solids.
Black water is water from the toilet and is very concentrated which can be discharged anywhere, as long as you are underway - they discharge treated black water only more than 12 nautical miles from shore. Black water also includes the waters from the medical facility. The impacts of black water are important to their company and there is no exception in their policy for discharging closer than 12 nautical miles. Ms. Wheatley is the only person who can ultimately approve a discharge closer than 12 nautical miles. If there is a discharge closer than 12 nautical miles, the captain must call and report it as it is a violation of company policy.
Bilge water is discharged beyond 12 miles and effluent to less than five part per million, even though the international standards say they can discharge less than 15 parts per million while underway. When you treat the bilge water, you come up with sludge. Under international law, this sludge can be landed for disposal, however, their company policy is to incinerate it on board or land it for treatment and recycling by the shore facility. Some of their ships incinerate it and mash it down before landing it. She said their company has a big commitment to recycling so they land it in ports where there is recycling -- sludge can be used in things like asphalt.
Company policy for hotel and restaurant waste is to collect and sort it at the source of generation, nothing is discharged overboard including incinerator ash or food wastes, and they recycle where possible. International law states that, except for plastics, they can discharge outside 3, 12, 25 or 200 miles. Because they incinerate their food waste, they need the plastic and paper waste as a fuel to heat the food waste to the point it will burn. They also sort aluminum and metal cans and recycle them, and crush their glass. Those items are put in cold storage until they land in Vancouver to discharge.
Special waste requires special handling and includes chemicals, spent fluorescence, batteries, used paints/thinners, photo waste, and dry cleaning waste. They all are collected, stored separately and off-loaded - generally in the shipís homeport. She said she felt they used 11 ports throughout the world. These policies and practices are not only applied in Alaska, but in all their ships all over the world.
Mr. Williams pointed out that a program was in place to go above and beyond compliance in virtually every place that they can and will continue to use the best technology and seek the best advice so they can continue to improve upon their program. He felt it was very important for the citizens of Juneau to understand what the operators were doing in port. He mentioned he is not an environmental expert but was brought up to speed rather quickly when he came on board in 1997. He said he did not feel the environmental laws were anywhere near as stringent as they should be, and added that the fact that international standards would allow any operator to discharge gray water in the beautiful ports of Juneau is nonsense; their company does not do that. He concluded that the citizens have every right to examine his companyís procedures and he would be happy to return - as long as it takes to answer the questions that any one has about those procedures. But, the citizens have every right to ask all the other cruise ship operators the same thing; however, he did not want to insinuate that anyone was doing anything wrong.
Ms. Munoz asked him to discuss what actually happened in 1995 and how the policies in 1995 were different. Mr. Williams said he had no personal knowledge of what went on in the company in 1994 and 1995 - only since 1997. When he went over the information, it was obvious to him that the company did not have the right kind of management insight in place to detect the kind of activity that took place in 1994 and 1995. He has since put that oversight in place to make sure that the expertise, the training programs, the internal auditing procedures were in place and now the external independent auditing procedures are in place so they can have an unbiased opinion about compliance on their ships. He said he was very confident today and that any wrong actions would be detected early.
Mr. Perkins said, as an elected official in the community, it was his responsibility to make sure that whenever a business come to our community that they do so with the thought that they are not going to destroy the environment or the health and safety of our community. His recollection of the actions that occurred began was when the Mayor received a call from the press asking him what he thought of the fines that were applied to Royal Caribbean. Mr. Perkins was interested in the process of deliberations and negotiations with the federal government and wanted to know why Juneau was not at the table with them to discuss any settlements. Mr. Williams commented on the investigation as it relates to the US Government and the US Coast Guard. He said the people did an excellent job in the investigation and he believed that they have a better company and a better industry as a result of the investigation. He noted that the timing of this investigation was in the hands of the US Government, and they did an exhaustive research. When the company went into the final settlement negotiations, they were forbidden by law to discuss the negotiations and that there was a small handful of people in the company involved in the negotiations. Regarding the announcement that happened six or seven weeks ago, they were told at 9 a.m. that they could, after 11 eastern time (that morning and after the government had their press conference) that they were free to release their press release. They obeyed that and at 9 a.m. he called all the officers of Royal Caribbean into a meeting and announced that a settlement had been reached and what it was all about.
He introduced John Fox, Vice President of Public Relations, who spends a lot of time in Alaska, and said that unfortunately he had heard some of the criticism for not having been able to alert the communities. Mr. Williams offered his assurance that Mr. Fox knew nothing about the settlement negotiations or the investigation.
Mr. Perkins said Juneau host hundreds of thousands of people and it may be that Mr. Fox should have come forward as a representative of Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean could have stepped forward and come clean with the affected communities and offer to work with the communities. Now it is seven years after the fact. Mr. Williams said the first thing that they did, as it related to their opportunity to go public, was to hold a press conference with staff. Mr. Perkins clarified that the company could not come forward and say there had been a problem in the waterway and tell the affected communities that there was an investigation underway. Mr. Williams explained they did not understand the nature of the full extent of the governmentís investigation until they got into the negotiations and discovered what had been uncovered. When it became clear what those issues where, they were forbidden to speak of them. Mr. Perkins clarified that the companyís response was that they were legally doing everything that they could. Mr. Williams replied, absolutely not, the company has pleaded guilty to the infractions and has stated publicly that these actions were willfull and that the company accepts full responsibility.
Mr. Powell thanked Mr. Williams for coming to the community and personally apologizing. He said he was interested in the discussions about the penalty money, but was more interested in working toward the solutions to the problem. He explained the problem in the community is that air pollution, water pollution, and now noise pollution, was being caused by the cruise ship industry. He wanted to figure out how to manage it and get to solutions - how to get out of the reactionary mode of penalties and move toward assurances to the community that this will never happen again. He listed a number of ideas and asked Royal Caribbean to join the community in moving toward these solutions with monetary support. Mr. Powell thought there should be an environmental observer on the cruise ships to monitor environmental practices. Second, a water monitoring program in Southeast Alaska. Third, there needs to be an ambient air-monitoring program for this town. He said right now the single ships are within the law, but together they are not. Fourth, there should be some non-regulatory programs - a Green Ship program for cruise ships, and he compared it to the Green Star program currently operating. Finally, there should be a citizenís board for Southeast that is advised by industry but does not have members from the industry, only from the community itself.
Mr. Williams thought those were excellent suggestions of things that should be looked at. He said every community that he visits has an amazing amount of work to be done on behalf of marine research. He said what they did a couple years ago was to set up an ocean fund and that this company today, puts more money into marine research, education, and preservation than any cruise company in the industry. He mentioned the Chairman of the Board, Dr. Odus Brown, is an expert in marine biology, and invited Juneau to take advantage of those funds. There were experts in the field and there was about $2.2M left in the fund. Mr. Fox has been in Alaska and has shared over $700,000 through out all the communities.
Mr. Powell wanted specific reactions and that Mr. Williams should be responsible for a response to his suggestions. He then referred to an earlier statement about being above and beyond compliance and said he felt that was admirable. He had no assurance that the company would abide by the laws that were in place right now, such as the Alaska water quality standards. He clarified the cruise ship which was in direct violation was no longer coming to Alaska. Mr. Williams replied that the two ships involved in the infractions were no longer in the fleet; he thought one was in Europe and one was in Asia.
Ms. Hagevig thought it was important Royal Caribbean understand the violation and that the residents consider themselves to be very good stewards of this land. She also thought it was very important to recognize that the events did occur in 1994 and 1995, and the fact that Mr. Williams was not in charge at the time did not diminish the impact. She felt that the community needed to be able to enter into discussion for compensation. She said there were a number of recreation projects that were high on the priority list that included a swimming pool in the valley and an ice rink. Those projects are significant expenditures - she felt the community was owed something and asked if the company would be willing to discuss any of those options.
Mr. Williams stated that he knew that they would not be able to leave this meeting and say that this company has fixed everything, but over time, it could happen. He said he could feel our pain and apologized. There would be no way to go back and change what happened, but they could go forward and will continue to do the things that they could. With regard to Ms. Hagevigís request, he said there were two consequences of this kind of investigation. First, if you are found guilty of a violation, you are punished. This company is paying the largest environmental fine in the history of the cruise industry and that the US Government only settles the issues as it relates to the crime. There is an ongoing investigation as it relates to the individuals and that needs to be allowed to continue. He said he had faith that the government would do what they have to do in this incidence. The second thing is to correct behavior; ensure that the people who did these kinds of activities are no longer engaged in that kind of behavior. He explained that their company is under five-year probation and that there is independent external oversight of the company. Every move they make, as it relates to environmental compliance today, Ms. Wheatley will have to file an environment compliance report with the US Government as it relates to all the activities of the quarter for the next five years. If they do not perform within the boundaries of the environmental compliance program of the courts, they will be in big trouble and will never get off probation. He said he was absolutely committed to making sure that the company continues to define all the procedures. He said they want to be good community partners with all the communities and that was why Mr. Fox was in the communities all the time. What changes they are making have been big investments. Gas turbine technology alone will cost an additional $2-3M more for each ship per year which is a big investment into the air quality of Alaska.
Ms. Hagevig reiterated that she was trying to make him understand the personal violation to the individuals that reside in this community, how they feel Ė that the company had a liability to the community. She suggested something very tangible in the community so that people could look at it and say that this activity occurred. She asked again if he would be willing to negotiate on a tangible recreation project. Mr. Williams responded that they had different priorities, and in his opinion, his liability with this community was to make sure that every person was satisfied with his companyís environmental commitment. That was his focus, priority, and where he was putting his energy and that would be where it would stay until he was satisfied that the message was accepted by every community. He pointed out they spent $750,000 in the communities of Alaska this year, including a softball field in Haines. He suggested speaking with Mr. Fox about the issues Ms. Hagevig was addressing as he felt Mr. Fox would make the right decision and would work with the community to do what the company needs to do to help in the efforts. Ms. Hagevig stated that what she was talking about was not a charitable cause.
Mayor Egan clarified that the federal government received $18M and the community has seen $0 as far as reformation for the incidences that occurred. He wanted a firm commitment that Royal Caribbean would discuss this with Juneau. Mr. Williams responded that he would look forward to those discussions.
Mr. Koelsch said, on the cruise ship, he sees a lot of "Save the Wave" buttons on the crew. In discussions with crewmembers, he felt they believed in saving the wave and wanted to believe that the cruise ship industry was an environmentally clean industry. However, Royal Caribbean has embarrassed him for his idealistic beliefs and that it has angered him because the pollution was deliberate. Mr. Koelsch referred to the Exxon Valdez spill and said it was one of stupidity and incompetence. The Royal Caribbean was one of forethought and in many ways more onerous to him. He said he listened to Mr. Williams' words but wanted to see actions attached to them. He suggested a Juneau Mitigation fund to Mr. Fox and reiterated that the $18M was going to the federal government and was not going to where the pollution occurred. Some thoughts for the fund would include Juneau waste management, perhaps recycling, and perhaps some of the beautification that we enjoy, with the flowers and the flags, etcetera. He told Mr. Williams that for the future they put "Save the Wave" in action and just not on a button.
Mr. Garrett agreed with Mr. Koelsch and deferred his time to the citizens.
Mr. MacKinnon said, judging by what Mr. Williams said about when the negotiations were going on, he was prohibited from talking to his board and even his senior officers about the negotiations. He asked if there were any additional investigations regarding actions that have occurred after 1994/1995, or negotiations as a result of investigations with regard to Royal Caribbean, its ships and its practices. Mr. Williams replied that outside of the fact that there is an ongoing investigation about individual involvement in the past incidents, to his knowledge, there was no other investigation concerning Royal Caribbean International about any past incidents.
Mayor Egan explained that he did not write a letter to Mr. Williams until six days after the indictment was announced because he had not heard a word from Royal Caribbean. He said he has known John Fox for years, but it deeply troubled him that there was a major company, that the Port of Juneau was mentioned in this paperwork from the US Attorney and Juneau received no word what so ever. It was up to Royal Caribbean to call the citizens of this community. Regarding the "doughnut holes" in Icy Straight, which are out of the three-mile contiguous zone, he asked what would happen if the US Coast Guard would make all the doughnut holes, the contiguous zones, no dump zones. Ms. Wheatley responded that the goals of putting together an itinerary for a ship was to provide enough time outside of 12 nautical miles. The Visions of the Seas, with her itinerary and her storage capacity, is able to meet the 12-mile requirement. She believed that the Rhapsody also met that same criteria. She noted they were able to find areas that were more than 12 miles from shore and that those were the only places that they discharge. She added that they off-load a fair amount of wastewater in Vancouver for treatment at the wastewater treatment plant. One of the other things that they were doing at a number of ports around the world was to look for sewer connections because they can off-load a great deal more wastewater in port if they have a connection to a shore site wastewater treatment plant. Mayor Egan said he was not just asking about Royal Caribbean ships, but all the ships. Ms. Wheatley replied Royal Caribbean would not have a problem if the zone was changed but some of their competitors might. Mr. Williams added that he was appalled at those sorts of laws that are in place and that they should be far more stringent in his opinion and offered to work together to get those laws changed.
Mayor Egan limited testimony to two minutes. Mr. Williams asked if he was to respond, Mayor Egan said he could answer any questions.
Aaron Felker, 2147 C Crow Hill, Douglas, asked for the precise date the ship was boarded and when the incorrect logbook of the oil discharges was found. Mr. Williams replied he did not have the date. Mr. Felker stated the ship had an oil/water separator on board, however a bypass had been installed by the chief engineer so that they would not have to spend any money on upkeep of the separator. They were able to discharge oily waste into the ocean. He said apparently there was a seven-mile oil slick which helped the ship be found. Mr. Felker asked what assurances Mr. Williams could give him since he had already, with his statement to the Department of Justice, admitted to conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He also asked why anyone in their right mind would believe another word that was said and wanted to ask what right Royal Caribbean had to be in our waters when there was intent to commit crimes. Why should we not just ban Royal Caribbean outright? Mr. Williams replied, first off they have no right to be in our waters. And, if Mr. Felker had information that he did not have, he would appreciate Mr. Felker sharing it with him. He would then take immediate action. Mr. Felker said there was a pattern of not spending money on maintenance. He estimated that 2,000 people paying $2,000 each would generate $4M each time they send a ship to Alaska. $18M is a drop in the bucket to the company and he asked why does it mean anything for the company to be fined $18M when it could save say $30M to just bypass it.
Patrick Russell, 2293 #1 Denton Drive, ran down his list: conspiracy and lies; engineered human intent to deceive; falsified records to the Coast Guard; a multi-national corporation that has absolutely no interest in our ethical standards they donít care one way or another about our coastal waters. He asked what corporate citizenship meant as he had never seen a face on a corporation. With all due respect, he said he was afraid that he did not really believe Mr. Williams when he spoke for the corporation, he did not think one human being could speak for the corporate structure. He also felt Mr. Williamsí corporation should be banned from our waters, period, forever.
Erik Lee Nielson, Box 22876, thanked Mr. Williams for coming before the public. He said he was not going to limit his concerns to just Royal Caribbean because he thought that all in the industry were guilty of air pollution. He appreciated the steps Royal Caribbean was taking with their new engines but he would like to see something done now because it is a big problem. As far as the city leaders are concerned, he felt this was a wake-up call to deal with all of the cruise lines and insisted on accountability in all areas. Mr. Williams asked for Mr. Nielsonís suggestions in writing.
Aaron Brakel, 420 East Street, thanked the Mayor for holding the meeting and for Royal Caribbeanís presence. He referred to Mr. Williams comment that he could understand what the citizens were trying so hard to protect. He felt a lot of the outrage and feelings were a result of underlying concerns about the carrying capacity of our community and Alaska. Currently the cruise ship industry is undergoing massive capitalization to increase the capacity. Mr. Brakel thought there was a growing consensus that we, as Alaskans, were not under any obligation to meet the industryís increase in capacity. He thought Mr. Williams needed to recognize that Juneau would be looking at capacity limits here and hopefully more on a regional basis than just community by community. He added that there were different ways to approach that, Royal Caribbean could fight it "tooth and nail" or they could position their company to be in the best position to get those spots. He did not know the companyís policy with regards to incineration, but he encouraged the industry to develop a policy of not incinerating within 10 miles of ports.
Ella Bentley, 3311 Nowell Avenue, felt that the only reason Mr. Williams was sitting here today, making speeches and showing remorse was because they got caught. If they had not gotten caught, she felt the company would still be dumping and polluting and still not giving a damn about the environment. She thought they should be banned from Alaska waters forever.
Ken Dean, SAIL, P.O. Box 35097, said one of the things he could see as being a win win situation is for Royal Caribbean, and some other cruise lines, is getting together and starting to fund closed captioning of "Gavel to Gavel" and all statewide news programs. To him that would be a simple fix.
Karla Hart, P.O. Box 22425, said he was asking for trust as the new leader of the company since 1997, but she did not know who he was, whom he worked for and what the record of his former company was. She said she did not want his comments during her allotted time but asked him to get that information to the news media so that the citizens could check him out and see his record. She also would like to see Mr. Williams come back and talk to the community about other issues that are important. He defined what he wanted to talk about now, and that was important, but quality of life issues and other issues needed more discussion in a forum where members of the community could ask and express their feelings rather than a formal assembly meeting. This is one of the largest cruise destinations in the world and it deserves more than a visit after you got caught. Ms. Hart said she would like to see the company burn cleaner fuel. She did research a couple years ago, and all the cruise lines that were in Northwest Cruise Association were burning high sulfur fuel. She said low sulfur fuels are available - the Alaska Marine Highway System burns low sulfur fuels - and the explanation that she got from the industry suppliers in Vancouver was cost. She also would like to see the industry step up and pay the money to burn cleaner fuel. Regarding the capacity for black water, the capacity was not identified and in the presentation, it was noted that in Alaska there are some problems with regards to meeting the dumping. She figured that once they left Juneau they would be looking at Icy Straights or Frederick Sound, both of which are important habitats. The explanations that were presented were not thorough enough and she asked for additional information at another time.
Mr. Williams replied that he was 50 years old, married with three kids, and when heís not running the company, he spends the biggest bulk of his time fighting Cysts Fibrosis, which in his opinion is far more treacherous that what is being discussed today. He added that he is the single largest contributor working on behalf of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He has worked for them for 15 years and said it is the most miserable, God-awful disease you could ever imagine; it suffocates people to death. He would be traveling across the country for the next two months raising $8M to fight the disease. Mr. Williams mentioned eight years ago he shared the stage with Bob Hope and was awarded the lifetime accommodation for his work on behalf of charity with Bob Hope and was very proud of that.
Jim Bentley, 3311 Nowell Avenue, thanked Mr. Williams for having the courage to come up here, but he was not sure that he totally buys what Mr. Williams has said. He said he was disturbed that, at trying to hold this man hostage for an ice-skating rink, or something, which was not really needed. Mr. Bentley said, as a taxpayer, he would help pay for that. He suggested giving the man back his $18M as itís not going to hurt his corporation, and have him do the research and develop the technology and put his money where his mouth is and make this a better industry. He also suggested that their lobbyist go to the federal government who is doing a miserably poor job in monitoring and enforcing the laws. When he has accomplished this, let him back in Alaska waters.
Wayne Fleet, 3151 Pioneer Avenue, directed his comments to the Mayor and Assemblymembers. He said he and his family have been in Juneau approximately a hundred years and would be here for another hundred. He said he did not want to sellout for an ice rink or a swimming pool. This company had criminal intent in committing a crime, that they have reached a negotiated settlement of $18M, none of which is coming to Juneau. It would be his recommendation that the city proceed legally with an action for forfeiture of the vessel, even though they have done the "Exxon shuffle" and sent it someplace else.
Heather Marlow, 8300 Valley Avenue, said one of the most effective mechanisms that she has seen with drunk drivers is to have them go and speak to people that are in jail, or to young people. She recommend to Mr. Williams that they look at doing some sort of program with the other cruise ship industries to let them know what has happened to his company and what could happen to theirs if they donít change.
Mr. Williams replied that he thought that was excellent insight. He said Ms. Wheatley spends a lot of time with her colleagues and other operators in this industry discussing many of the issues. He agreed there was a need for a much better job as an industry, learning from each others mistakes, and learning from the things that we are all doing as it relates to the environment. That is clearly one area where they do not compete, we all have to do the best practices and do the best thing for the environment and said he would continue to try to encourage that kind of dialog in the industry.
Bill Leighty, 227 Gastineau Avenue, said that very few here were without sin. We drive cars; we fail to recycle a bottle and a can. He admitted spilling gas in the channel while filling an outboard motor. We fail and the individuals who failed at this company, some time ago, do so because of a lack of adequate profound respect and love for the planet that we inhabit. We all have a lot of work to do in that regard and we all share a global environmental problem that has not been addressed. The scientific consensus of the atmospheric folks is that CO2 emissions are going to be, and are now, a significant problem for us because of global warming and global climate change. Equipping the ships with turbine engines, will that result in a greater or less fuel efficiency? How does it affect CO2 emissions? What is the fuel consumption for a ship per cruise, per week or per passenger? What are the total CO2 emissions from a ship? How will this company help humans reduce our CO2 emissions by the 70% that seems to be the consensus of the atmospheric scientists which we need to do to prevent serious human interference with the climate system of the earth that we all must share?
Mr. Williams agreed that the global warming issues were forefront in the minds of a lot of environmentalists and it was a very serious issue. He claimed to not be an expert in that area but tries to stay abreast of that development. He said the technical questions about the fuel that is burned would vary by itinerary and that he would be happy provide very precise answers to the questions but would like to have the opportunity to get the correct answers.
Mr. Leighty asked him to address his last question. Mr. Williams said the he did not know how his company might lead the charge for the entire world population in that respect, but he thought the first thing would be to understand what their emissions were doing with their ships. Then they would work to fix those problems as best they could. He said he was open to suggestions and would be happy to speak with him. Ms. Wheatley added that the sentiments that Mr. Leighty expressed were what led the company to go to gas turbines. She was not an expert on engine technology, but she thought they would be going to a higher efficiency fueling which meant they would be getting better value for the fuel that is burned, which is part of what you need to do in order to improve the CO2 emissions. She believed they had taken a step in the right direction.
Captain George Brereton, 1030 Wee Burn Drive, said he works for the Alaska Marine Highway System as a captain and is pretty familiar with the pollution issues of the industry and questioned the companyís motives for going to gas turbines. They may in fact pollute less, but there is an ongoing problem right now that has been skipped over, and that is the pollution that goes on from the current emissions. He especially was interested in the emissions that happen from the ship service generators. He asked if they would be going to gas turbines with them, and why they were not burning lighter fuel. Also, he said if they wanted to go one step farther, there were designed fuels available today that were even cleaner than No. 2 Diesel. He asked why we were not discussing those.
Mr. Williams replied that he was not a fuel expert, to his knowledge they were buying the best fuel they could for the engines they have. If anyone has a better grade of fuel and can tell him where he can buy it, he assured them he would buy it. He added that he was not interested in saving money on fuel at the expense of contaminating the environment.
Mayor Egan said they spoke with the Northwest Cruise Ship Association about three years ago about the possibility of burning lighter fuels when in port and the answer from the Association was they would think about it - "weíre still waiting."
Ms. Wheatley noted that she had been engaged in discussions about what could be done to improve the quality of the fuel that they burn because emission issues are real. It is difficult to purchase fuel that is low sulfur, but Royal Caribbean is committed to buying the best that they can. She explained that the engines require a certain grade of fuel and you cannot just change the grade and have the engines continue to perform. The technical people at their company continue to discuss this issue.
Deborah Rucks, P.O. Box 20604, felt that, based on the information received today, it would be interesting for the State of Alaska, in the various Southeast communities that were affected, to join forces and consider a damage assessment for this situation. That would be one way to get dollars for the damages that occurred. She asked why Royal Caribbean, and all cruise line companies which travel through southeast Alaska, do not participate in the local oil response cooperative but instead rely only on the Coast Guard for spill response when other commercial shipping operation do fund the local cooperative.
Mr. Williams replied he was not aware that Royal Caribbean was not participating in this cooperative. He said he and Ms. Wheatley would go back and do some due diligence on that and find out why they were not participating.
Steve Behnke, P.O. Box 22827, testified as a lifelong Alaskan and as the Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness Recreation Tourism Association. He said they are the second largest statewide tourism association in the state and their members know that they depend on the high quality of Alaska and its environment and equally important, the good will and tolerance of the people who are residents of Alaskan communities. He said if we cannot get along with the residents, their business members canít make a living and canít do business and that none of the large cruise corporation, including Royal Caribbean, are a member of their association. They are mad about the waste dumping and they think it is important to think about appropriating blame fairly. As Alaskans, he thought we had failed to demand that our local governments, in state and federal agencies, take this kind of issue seriously. He added that tourism growth is a major issue and is going to be increasingly so and we need to demand the city, state, and federal agencies take seriously a comprehensive management plan and monitor and regulate the tourism industry. Their association, which is mostly small businesses scattered around the state, thinks that is the only way to address these kinds of issues and the whole range of other tourism-related issues that are occurring. The global history of tourism shows that unless local residents take the issues seriously and step forward, working with the industry, the industry spoils its own nest. It has to take a balance between regulatory issues and others.
Mr. Behnke said he would like to see the CBJ follow up on some of Mr. Powellís suggestions and thought the Assembly and the other agency people should take Mr. Williamsí offer seriously of working to strengthen some of the environmental laws and some of the loopholes that exist.
Dennis Harris, P.O. Box 21214, said he thought it was ridiculous that it took eight Juneau Police Officers to make sure that this meeting did not turn into a riot and that Mayor Egan was about three or four years late getting on board this. He stressed that there have been too many ships, too many passengers, too many helicopters, too many buses, just plain too much. It has been too much for about seven or eight years and the quality of passenger experiences is deteriorating and has deteriorated. If you looked at certain websites on the internet, you would discover there are a lot of passengers out there, avid cruisers, who will not come back to Southeastern Alaska because there is already too damn many passengers here. One of the things that this city should do immediately is to require that these ships not run their service generators when they are docked. He suggested they should be using shore power, which we have a surplus of in this community, nice clean hydro shore power. Skagway also has a nice surplus of hydro shore power, more than they could ever use in the next 20 years, and the industry should be using that. Weíre tired of the air pollution. He did not hear the mention of particulates, but the industry should be precipitating the particulates out of their stacks, before they ever get out of it, along with the sulfur dioxide and everything else. We do not want money from Royal Caribbean, we want control of our community, we want community control over your industry, which the industry does not what. If the industry persists, that is what they are going to get.
Mr. Powell asked if members of the Assembly could stay longer so the meeting could continue. Mayor Egan replied he would not be able to stay, Mr. Williams said he had another commitment - since he was told the meeting would only last two hours - he could stay another five minutes.
Susan Phillips, 1760 Evergreen, said she works in the legal profession and heard that Royal Caribbean pleaded guilty to a number of violations, she also heard the number 21 and 7; and thought that 7 pertained to Alaska and 21 perhaps overall. Typically, in criminal cases, there is an indictment and normally a plea agreement, meaning the defendant agrees to plead to a certain number of those violations and typically it is not all of the violations. She asked if there was an indictment in this case and how many counts Royal Caribbean was indited on overall and also in Alaska.
Ms. Wheatley replied that the basis of the plea agreement was that there would be no indictment, that they waived indictment by pleading guilty to the charges. She gave two caveats to that: one, the company pleaded guilty a year ago in Miami and San Juan to part of the charges. There were indictments associated with that guilty plea and they were indited on three counts in Los Angeles, California earlier this year. Technically they pleaded guilty to those three counts in June. The 21 counts included the three counts in Los Angeles.
Marian Miller, Clerk