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I’ve just come across a series of articles relating to an alleged breach of environmental legislation by Azura when she was in Marseilles on 29 March. Apparently she was found to be burning fuel of a higher concentration of sulphur than was allowed in the port – 1.68% instead of 1.5%. What’s most interesting is that the authorities in Marseilles are going to pursue the action. The captain – and I don’t at the moment know who was captain on Azura on 29 March, can someone help me with that? – was interviewed with an interpreter a few days later, and apparently admitted/agreed the details of the alleged offence. There was also a suggestion that he would be arrested on his next call at Marseilles, which was due in early June – I don’t know if that actually happened. However, proceedings against him – but not against P&O, who are not named in the action – will commence in court on 9 July, and that seems to be definite.

I’m not altogether clear as to the nature of the charge, or even whether it’s a criminal or civil case – most of the reports I’ve read have been in French media and the technical details of the legal action are beyond my schoolboy French. Given that the possible penalties could be a year in prison or a €200,000 fine (it might actually be a year in prison and a fine), it sounds like a criminal case.

This is apparently the first time that criminal proceedings (if that’s what they are) have been launched in Europe against a cruise ship captain for an offence of this nature. What’s also interesting is that it’s very personal as it’s the captain who’s been charged and not the cruise line or the ship’s port of registry. They’re obviously saying that the captain is personally responsible for the condition of his or her vessel and must therefore personally carry the can for any regulatory breaches.

I’ll follow this up on the 9th (Monday) as best I can. And if anyone can tell me the identity of the captain on Azura on 29 March I’d be grateful – the French media sites I’ve visited are don’t mention a name at all.

A Google search for ‘Azura Marseilles pollution’ will bring up the sites I’ve been looking at, including a story in the Guardian (which is where I first spotted it).

 

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