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 http://www.Oceana.org.