Congress Begins Push to Stop Cruise Industry from Dumping Sewage, but what will Canada do?
Friends of the Earth sent out a press release today announcing that in the U.S., Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Representative Sam Farr (D-Calif.) had introduced legislation that would prevent cruise ships from dumping sewage and other waste into coastal waters. Howard Breen forwarded me the release. I didn't realize at first this was all about America, so the first thing I wondered was, but what about the ships cruising through the Georgia Straight on their way to Alaska? No word on that, but here's what's happening in the U.S., according to Friends of the Earth:
“Cruise ships are currently allowed to dump raw sewage just three nautical miles from shore. This practice is not only disgusting, it can threaten the public health, coastal tourism, fishing economies, and marine ecosystems,” said Neesha Kulkarni, Legislative Associate at Friends of the Earth. “Advanced technology is available to treat this waste, but the cruise industry has failed to install this equipment on a majority of its ships. The Clean Cruise Ship Act would put a stop to this practice and hold the cruise industry accountable.”
The Clean Cruise Ship Act would establish a no-dumping zone in waters within 12 nautical miles of U.S. shores and strengthen outdated standards for treatment of waste outside of this zone. The bill would also establish an onboard monitoring program to ensure that ships comply with the law.
“Big cruise ships make for big pollution; it’s an unavoidable truth. Unfortunately, responsible disposal of that waste hasn’t always been a given. The cruise ship industry is way overdue to take responsibility for its actions,” Rep. Farr said. “The Monterey Peninsula saw what happens when things go wrong when thousands of gallons of wastewater were dumped off our coastline. It’s ironic that the cruise industry relies on a clean ocean and pristine coastlines for its livelihood, but doesn’t put in the effort to sustain them. This carelessness must not be allowed to continue.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over the last decade the cruise industry has grown nearly twice as fast as any other travel industry. Average ship size has grown about 90 feet every five years and some ships now carry as many as 7,000 passengers and crew. In one week alone, an average cruise ship (3,000 passengers) can generate 200,000 gallons of sewage and 1 million gallons of graywater (water from showers, floor drains, and kitchens).
More information about cruise ship pollution and the bill can be found at http://www.foe.org/air-and-water/clean-cruise-ship-act.