California Passes Legislation to Stop Cruise Ship Sewage Dumping; Oceana Calls on Gov. Schwarzenegger to Swiftly Sign Bills into Law

Aug 26, 2004, 01:00 ET from Oceana

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The California legislature has sent
 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger three bills that would give that state the nation's
 tightest controls over cruise ship sewage dumping in coastal waters, eclipsing
 Alaska, the only other state with strict cruise pollution laws, and far
 outpacing lax federal regulations that do little to protect the oceans.
     International ocean conservation group Oceana, which recently won an
 important victory against Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises, urged the
 governor to quickly sign the bills into law.  California has the second-
 largest cruise ship market in the nation, after Florida.
     In May, after an 11-month campaign, Oceana persuaded Royal Caribbean, 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 law
 allows the cruise industry to dump so-called "graywater" (sewage from
 kitchens, sinks and showers) anywhere, while sewage from toilets is only
 required to be treated if it's dumped within three miles of shore, and even
 then, by antiquated and ineffective marine sanitation devices.
     "This legislation stops cruise ship dumping in state waters. It sends a
 clear message that cruise ships are welcome in California so long as they
 leave their wastes behind.  Ocean and coastal waters are too important for
 Californians to allow needless pollution," said Assemblyman Joe Simitian, D-
 21st, author of AB 2672, which bans cruise ships from dumping sewage from
 toilets within three miles of shore.
     The legislature approved AB 2672 on Aug. 20, along with another bill, AB
 471, also written by Simitian, which bans cruise ships from incinerating waste
 off California's coast. The third bill, AB 2093, by Assemblyman George Nakano,
 D-53rd, prohibits cruise ships from dumping sewage from kitchens, sinks, and
 showers in state waters. It was approved today.
     "We congratulate Assemblymen Nakano and Simitian and the California
 legislature for finally addressing the growing problem of cruise pollution,"
 said Dana DuBose, director of Oceana's Southern California office.
 "Californians take great pride in their coast and coastal waters.  Now they
 can be equally proud of their legislators for protecting them."
     A single large cruise ship can carry up to 5,000 people and generate an
 astonishing amount of pollution: up to 25,000 gallons of sewage from toilets
 and 200,000 gallons of sewage from kitchens, sinks and showers every day.
 Inadequately treated sewage puts the coastal environment at risk due to the
 threat of bacteria, pathogens and heavy metals. Such pollution contributes to
 beach closures, coral reef destruction and other serious marine problems.
     Although cruise ship waste volumes can equal those of a small city, the
 cruise industry is exempt from Clean Water Act requirements that apply to
 municipalities and land-based industries.  Cruise ships are not required to
 monitor or report waste dumped into the oceans and are exempt from California
 water quality standards.  Cruise lines have paid more than $40 million in
 cumulative fines and penalties since 1999 for violating the few federal laws
 that do regulate cruise pollution.
     "The legislature has done its part, now it's up to the governor to enact
 these laws," said DuBose.  "These bills are consistent with the governor's
 proposed action plan to clean up ocean waters. Based on that strategy and his
 strong support for protecting ocean and coastal waters, we are confident that
 he will sign these bills into law."
     Some facts at a glance:
     * In 2003, California enacted legislation to ban cruise ship dumping of
       hazardous wastes, sewage sludge and oily bilge water.
     * California ports experienced nearly 10 percent growth in cruise
       embarkations in 2002. The port of Los Angeles, California's largest, had
       538,000 embarkations that year; the port of San Diego had the state's
       strongest growth, a 31 percent increase.
     * The cruise industry expects the number of ship visits to California
       (nearly 800 in 2003) to increase by 25 percent during the next decade.
     Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world's oceans.  Our teams of
 marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete
 policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of
 fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life.  Global in scope and
 dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America
 (Washington, DC; Juneau, AK; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Portland,
 Oregon; the Mid-Atlantic and New England), Europe (Madrid, Spain; Brussels,
 Belgium) and South America (Santiago, Chile).  More than 200,000 members and
 e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana.  For more
 information, please visit