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Another one I missed, I’m afraid.

You’ll remember that the captain of Azura was interviewed by French prosecutors regarding a case of burning fuel in French waters – specifically, when berthed at Marseilles – that had a greater concentration of sulphur than allowed. The case came to court early in the summer, was deferred until October, with a final verdict on 28 November. The charge was a criminal one, not civil, and the captain faced either a large fine, imprisonment, or both if found guilty. Initially only the captain faced charges, but as the case progressed Carnival Corp were brought into the action as well.

As I said above, although I did post several articles about this case, I completely missed the conclusion. Actually, I forgot all about it… but now I’m catching up. Carnival Corp had defended themselves during the action but the judge found against them (as I understand it, juries don’t feature much in French trials – the judge is both judge and jury). The outcome is that a fine of €100,000 was imposed on Captain Hoyt and Carnival Corporation, with the judge specifying that Carnival Corporation should pay 85% of the fine.

You can find my collection of posts about this here.

2 Responses to “Azura Pollution Case – Conclusion”

  1. Tony says:

    Didn’t know all of this was going on. What’s the rationale for burning fuel?

    • Tom Burke says:

      Thanks for the comment, Tony.

      Standard ‘bunker’ fuel for marine diesel engines contains a lot of sulphur, or at least produces higher levels of sulphur emissions. But it’s cheap. There are alternative fuels that are more highly refined which produce lesser quantities of unwelcome emissions, but these cost more money. In various jurisdictions around the world, various local authorities have passed laws that require ships to use these lower-polluting fuels. One of those places is the coastline of southern France, with a maximum limit of 1.5% concentration of sulphur impurities (the zone might extend into wider parts of the Mediterranean). When tested in March 2018, Azura’s fuel was found to contain a higher concentration of sulphur than allowed. Not by much, but nonetheless greater than the amount allowed in that jurisdiction. Hence the court case.

      What’s not clear is how it happened. It’s never been revealed what fuel was bunkered at the last fuel load, or what fuel Azura had in her bunkers at the time. (I think that there could have been different types of fuel in separate bunkers.) I generally tend towards ‘cock-up’ theories of history rather than ‘conspiracy’ theories, but we don’t know enough about how the problem arose to draw any conclusions.

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