U.S. House, Senate Introduce Clean Cruise Ship Acts

The Clean Water Act currently allows Cruise Ships in U.S. coastal waters and the Great Lakes to discharge raw, untreated sewage just three miles from the shoreline. New legislation introduced this week in the U.S. House and Senate hope to extend that distance and regulate how the waste is treated.

The Clean Cruise Ship act was introduced by House Rep Sam Farr, a California democrat.

“The average cruise ship produces over 1.2 million gallons of wastewater every week,” Durbin said. “Today, there are more than 230 cruise ships operating around the world, generating millions of gallons of wastewater daily. Under the current system, these ships can directly dump their waste into our oceans and the Great Lakes with minimal oversight.”

Under the new rules, cruise ships would not be able to discharge sewage, graywater, and bilgewater within 12 miles of U.S. shores, and outside 12 miles the contaminated water would need to be treated to reduce pollution levels.

Many ships have sanitary devices on cruise ships to treat wastewater prior to dumping, but the EPA found in December of 2008 that many of the sanitation devices weren’t working properly.

“The Monterey Peninsula saw what happens when things go wrong after thousands of gallons of wastewater were dumped off our coastline,” said Farr, who represents a California coastal district. “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.”

Newer ships like the Oasis of the Seas have taken great lengths to reduce the carbon footprint of their passengers up to 25%, with improvements to the hull design, energy efficient lighting, HVAC design, etc – but some in the environmental community say they haven’t gone far enough to reducing not only the carbon footprint of the cruise ship, but the overall environmental impact.

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