Oceana today announced its support for legislation introduced by Representative Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Olympia) that would prohibit cruise ships from dumping sewage, wastewater and other harmful wastes into Washington state waters. The bill comes on the heels of a recent incident in which the cruise ship Norwegian Sun dumped more than 16,000 gallons of raw sewage into Washington’s Puget Sound, breaking an agreement with the State in which the cruise industry agreed to stop dumping wastes off Washington’s coast.
“With a new terminal opening in Seattle, Washington needs to act now,” said Oceana Cruise Pollution Campaign Director Dana DuBose. “The Norwegian Sun incident demonstrates that voluntary measures will not suffice to protect Washington’s important coastal resources.”
Dickerson’s legislation would prohibit cruise ships from discharging untreated sewage, graywater, hazardous wastes and oily bilge water into Washington state waters. It also would require waste discharge to meet water purification levels comparable to those in Alaska, which means the outdated sanitation devices currently used by most cruise ships would need to be replaced by advanced wastewater treatment systems. Finally, the bill would require cruise ships to register with the state, apply for discharge permits, and pay a fee to cover environmental monitoring and reporting.
“This bill takes an important step by not only prohibiting the dumping of harmful wastes, but in requiring the cruise industry to upgrade antiquated marine sanitation devices to adequately treat the massive amounts of sewage generated by these floating cities,” said DuBose.
Oceana is conducting a consumer-based public education and outreach campaign to pressure the cruise industry to meet tougher standards for dumping sewage and wastewater and to submit to monitoring and testing. Oceana is also pushing for improved environmental performance from cruise ships by advocating for strong state and federal legislation.