Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed into law an ocean-protection bill that stops cruise ships from dumping sink and shower wastes in California coastal waters. While Oceana praised that action, it urged him to enact the most important cruise pollution bill on his desk: AB 2672, which stops cruise ships from dumping sewage from toilets within three miles of shore.
“By stopping the dumping of waste from cruise ships’ sinks, showers and galleys, Gov. Schwarzenegger has helped California take a stride toward cleaner and safer coastal waters. Anyone who cares about that type of wastewater would be even more concerned about the dumping of inadequately treated sewage from toilets,” said Dana DuBose, director of Oceana’s Southern California office. “So we hope that the governor will also sign the sewage bill in the next few days.”
“Assemblymen Simitian and Nakano, who introduced these bills, deserve praise for standing up to the industry’s political might and doing the right thing,” added DuBose. “We hope the governor will do the same.”
The enacted cruise pollution bill, AB 2093, by Assemblyman George Nakano, D-Torrance, bans cruise ships from dumping wastes from kitchens, sinks, and showers in state waters. Such wastewater contains bacteria, pathogens and heavy metals. Such pollution contributes to beach closures, seafood contamination, coral reef destruction and other serious marine and public health problems. Sewage from toilets, which would be covered by AB 2672, written by Assemblyman Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, contains an even greater level of these pathogens.
"I'm pleased the governor signed this bill into law. It's important that we protect our beaches and coastal ecosystems from needless, damaging pollution by an expanding cruise ship industry,” said Assemblyman Joe Simitian, author of AB 2672 which still awaits the Governor’s signature. “These laws ensure that even as the industry continues to grow, it won't be at the expense of our air and water quality. Simply put, these bills protect the environment, the public health and the economic vitality of our coast."
A single large cruise ship can carry up to 5,000 people and generate an astonishing amount of pollution: up to 25,000 gallons of sewage from toilets and 200,000 gallons of sewage from kitchens, sinks and showers every day. California is the nation’s second-largest cruise ship market, after Florida, and it experienced a 14 percent growth in cruise embarkations in 2003, boarding some 807,000 passengers. The cruise industry predicts the number of ship visits to California to grow by 25 percent over the next decade.
In May, after an 11-month campaign, Oceana persuaded Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, the world’s second-largest cruise ship company, to agree to install advanced wastewater treatment technology fleet-wide. Oceana has been fiercely advocating for stronger state and federal cruise pollution laws. Current federal law allows the cruise industry to dump sewage from kitchens, sinks and showers anywhere, while sewage from toilets is only required to be treated if it’s dumped within three miles of shore, and even then, by antiquated and ineffective marine sanitation devices.