On the heels of signing several ocean-protection bills, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a major victory for the oceans today, signing into law a critically important ocean protection bill: one that prohibits the cruise industry from dumping sewage from toilets in California waters.
“Today, California set an important precedent by passing one of the most stringent cruise ship pollution measures in the world,” said Dana DuBose, director of Oceana’s Southern California office. “Californians can be proud of Gov. Schwarzenegger and our lawmakers for preserving and protecting the oceans for generations to come.”
Today’s bill AB 2672, written by Assemblyman Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, stops cruise ships from dumping sewage from toilets within three miles of shore. Sewage contains high levels of bacteria, pathogens and heavy metals, which contribute to beach closures, seafood contamination, coral reef destruction and other serious marine and public health problems.
The governor yesterday signed AB 2093, by Assemblyman George Nakano, D-Torrance, which stops cruise ships from dumping so-called “graywater” -- waste from kitchens, sinks, and showers -- in state waters. Also yesterday, the governor signed AB 471, by Simitian, which stops cruise ships from incinerating waste off the coast.
“These laws ensure that, even as the industry continues to grow, it won't be at the expense of our air and water quality,” Assemblyman Simitian said in a statement yesterday. “Simply put, these bills protect the environment, the public health and the economic vitality of our coast."
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. A single large cruise ship can carry up to 5,000 people and generate up to 25,000 gallons of sewage from toilets and 200,000 gallons of waste from kitchens, sinks and showers every day.
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 when dumped within three miles of shore, and even then, by antiquated and ineffective marine sanitation devices.