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Saving Our Seas, Polluted Cities Afloat

6/4/2002

A new report published today by the Ocean Conservancy Environmental Organization charges that cruise ships should be regulated by the same anti-pollution laws as land-based industries.

Cruise ships can carry up to 5,000 passengers and produce waste equivalent to that of small cities, yet they are not governed by the same anti-pollution laws as municipalities of comparable size on land, notes the report, titled "Cruise Control: How Cruise Ships Affect the Marine Environment."

"Cruise ships are like floating cities, carrying thousands of passengers and generating tons of waste and trash each trip. However, unlike cities, cruise ships have largely escaped pollution regulation," said Catherine Hazlewood, director of the clean oceans program for The Ocean Conservancy. "We believe it's time to bring the industry in line with accepted pollution control practices."

Ships generate sewage, solid waste, oily bilge water, air pollution from diesel engines and onboard burning of large volumes of trash, and other pollutants. Cruise ship impacts have skyrocketed as the industry has grown, says the report. The pollution generated in one day by one large ship can include 37,000 gallons of oily bilge water, 30,000 gallons of sewage, 255,000 gallons of non-sewage wastewater from showers, sinks, laundries, baths and galleys, 15 gallons of toxic chemicals from photo processing and dry cleaning solutions, tens of thousands of gallons of ballast water containing pathogens and invasive species from foreign ports, seven tons of garbage and solid waste, and air pollution from diesel engines at a level equal to thousands of automobiles.

In 1998, 223 cruise ships carried 10 million passengers through some of the world's most sensitive ocean ecosystems. Since then, the industry has grown by an average of 10 percent each year, and is expected to bring more than 49 new vessels into service by 2005.

The report recommends a series of government actions, including: regulating all cruise ship discharges; amending the Clean Water Act to prevent discharges of raw sewage and toxic chemicals; requiring EPA to develop effluent limits, stronger air emission limits, and mandatory ballast water treatment programs; establishing and enforcing no discharge zones to reduce the impact of cruise ship pollution on special ocean sites; increasing funding for the EPA and US Coast Guard.

"The time has come for a change in our ocean ethic," said Roger Rufe, president of The Ocean Conservancy. "For so long people have been allowed to dump anything at sea without any real consequences, people need to feel the same level of responsibility for our seas as they do for their own backyards." For more on this story, see http://ens-news.com/ens.




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