SEATTLE — Cruise ships are like ocean-going cities. One of these vessels can produce up to a million gallons of gray water and sewage each week.
Right now a cruise ship can discharge this liquid waste in Washington waters if it gets approval from the Department of Ecology and the waste is properly treated beforehand.
The ships also have to be half a mile from commercial or tribal shellfish beds.
Environmental groups have proposed two new amendments to the agreement governing cruise ship wastewater.
They would ban the discharge of treated sewage and graywater from cruise ships within 3 miles of the coast of Washington and Puget Sound.
Fred Felleman is a consultant with Friends of the Earth – one of the groups that proposed the amendments. He says this is a chance for the cruise industry to set an example.
“By choosing not to discharge in Puget Sound they can set a bar that everybody else can follow and take full credit for it and this is their opportunity to do it before the beginning of the next cruise season,” he says.
Most cruise ships voluntarily wait to discharge their wastewater until they’ve left the coast.
Donna Spalding is the director of administration for the Northwest and Canada Cruise Association. Her organization represents 10 cruise lines.
Donna Spalding: The member lines of NWCCA already adhere to the highest water quality standards of anybody discharging in Puget Sound. I think we’re doing our part as it stands.
The Department of Ecology is now accepting public comments on the amendments.
In mid-February the Port of Seattle, Ecology and the cruise industry will vote on whether or not to approve the ban on discharging wastewater in Washington’s coastal waters.
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