Oceana Works To Stop Cruise Ship Pollution
Press Release Date: October 6, 2009
Today, Oceana launches a week-long media tour in three cities – Washington, New York and Boston – to continue raising awareness about cruise ship pollution. The campaign to protect our oceans and stop cruise ship pollution exposes how cruise ships threaten the health of the world’s oceans, including some of the most pristine and delicate parts of our ocean where cruise ships travel.
Cruise ship passengers have suffered from sewage-borne illnesses as reported in recent news reports. Cruise ship companies should take responsibility and stop dumping raw sewage in the ocean.
Thirty thousand (30,000) gallons of sewage are dumped into the oceans every day by an average-sized cruise ship with three thousand (3,000) passengers and crew. Raw, untreated sewage can be dumped in the ocean once a ship is more than three miles off U.S. shores. Inside the three-mile limit, cruise ships can eject “treated” sewage into our oceans. However, no government agency is charged with ensuring that sewage is properly treated and that it won’t harm humans or aquatic life.
Solutions to cruise pollution exist and they work. Installation of these technologies would not significantly raise the cost of a cruise ticket. For example, over a 5 year time frame, sewage treatment technology could be installed for little more than the cost each passenger would pay for a can of soda each day.
Learn more about the cruise industry’s 10 year record of environmental violations and fines:
Environmental Fines, 1992-1999
Large Environmental Fines ($100,000+), 1992 – 2002
Violations and Fines in Alaska, 1999 – 2002
Source: Cruise Ship Junkie www.cruisejunkie.com
Every day 255,000 gallons of gray water, water from laundries, showers, sinks and dishwashers, are poured right into the ocean by a mid-sized cruise ship.
Cruise ships are exempt from the discharge permitting program of the nation’s preeminent water pollution control law, the Clean Water Act.
On average, a cruise ship generates 15 gallons of toxic chemicals each day. These materials come from on-board dry cleaning and photo-processing facilities, painting and other activities.
Seven thousand gallons of oily bilge water are released into the oceans every time the ship empties its bilge tanks.
Thirty-three tanker trucks-worth of ballast water per cruise ship, complete with aquatic plants and animals, are taken in by ships in faraway ports and released into U.S. harbors and bays. When the ballast water is released, so too are the non-native plants and animals that were taken up with it. Non-native species can colonize, replace and harm local species. Ballast water can also carry diseases like cholera and paralytic shellfish poisoning into our harbors.
A single cruise ship produces smokestack and exhaust emissions equivalent to 12,000 automobiles every day.
The average cruise ship produces seven tons of garbage and solid waste every day.
Who’s Minding the Cruise Ship Environmental Performance?
Cruise ships are not held to the same important environmental protection standards that apply to cities and industries that produce a similar amount of waste.
The Clean Water Act requires industries and cities to have a permit to treat and discharge wastes. By also requiring monitoring, testing and reporting, these permits help ensure that sewage treatment systems are effective, and that both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the public know how much pollution is actually being discharged. This system also gives citizens the right to sue to enforce provisions of the law when necessary.
Cruise ships, however, are not required to have permits to dump raw sewage into the oceans, and they are not required to test or report what they release. This makes it difficult for the government and the public to know precisely how much pollution is released, and there is no opportunity for citizen enforcement.
What Are the Solutions to Cruise Ship Pollution?
A few ships are testing these technologies and proving they work in Alaska, where the state applies the strictest laws in the country. The technology that works in Alaska should be installed on every cruise ship so that they can stop dumping raw sewage in our oceans. So far the cruise industry has refused to do this.
Just installing technology is not enough. The industry has a history of by-passing and disabling pollution control devices, especially oil-water separators. While treatment systems may be installed, there is no guarantee that they are being used. Electronic monitors or on-board observers should be used to make sure that the waste treatment solution is real.
For More Information, Contact:
Director, Pollution Campaign
Phone: (202) 833-3900
Mobile: (202) 486-6113
Phone: (202) 833-3900
Mobile: (202) 215-1426
Oceana is a non-profit international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans through policy advocacy, science, law and public education. Founded in 2001, Oceana’s constituency includes members and activists from more than 190 countries and territories who are committed to saving the world’s marine environment. In 2002, the American Oceans Campaign became part of Oceana’s international effort to protect ocean eco-systems and sustain the circle of life. Oceana, headquartered in Washington, D.C., has additional offices in key U.S. coastal areas and will open offices in Latin America and Europe in 2003.