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EPA to sign rule preventing large ships from discharging 20 million gal of sewage along California’s 1,624-mile coastline
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld will announce details of the agency’s proposal to ban all sewage discharges from large cruise ships and most other large ocean-going ships to the marine waters along California’s entire coastline. This will establish the largest coastal “No Discharge Zone” in the United States and is expected to eliminate millions of gallons of sewage that large ships discharge every year into local waters.
“California’s coastal waters are a unique national treasure,” said Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld. “The clear waters of the Pacific are central to California’s economic and ecological vitality. Stopping 20 million gallons of sewage from entering California’s coastal waters and bays protects people and wildlife from dangerous pathogens.”
This action will strengthen protection for 5,222 sq miles of California’s ports and coastal waters, extending from the border with Mexico to Oregon and the waters surrounding major islands. The action proposes a new federal regulation to establish the sewage discharge ban.
“California’s beautiful beaches attract millions of tourists every year and we have fought hard to keep it that way. Pollution from these ships is a direct threat to our natural resources and the local economies that depend on tourism dollars. I commend U.S. EPA for this significant step forward in ensuring that our coastline remains pristine,” said Linda Adams, California's secretary for environmental protection.
The ban will prohibit sewage discharges from all 300-plus-ton vessels, including cruise and cargo ships that operate in California waters.
“Big ships make for big pollution but unfortunately, responsible disposal of sewage from ships hasn’t always been a given in California,” said Marcie Keever, Oceans & Vessels campaign director at Friends of the Earth. “The actions taken by U.S. EPA, the state of California, and the thousands of Californians who supported the Clean Coast Act mean that cruise lines and the shipping industry can no longer use California’s valuable coastal and bay waters as their toilet.”
Under the Clean Water Act, states may request EPA to establish vessel sewage No Discharge Zones if necessary to protect and restore water quality. In 2006, following passage of three state statutes designed to reduce the effects of vessel discharges to its waters, the state of California asked EPA to establish the sewage discharge ban.
“This is a winner all around,” said Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who authored the California law prohibiting coastal dumping and petitioning the federal government for EPA authorization. “The Environmental Protection Agency's No Discharge Zone protects our coastal economy, our environment and our public health.”