Feb 23, 2007

Cruise Ships Reach Agreement With Washington DOE

The Washington Department of Ecology and the Port of Seattle have signed an agreement with NorthWest CruiseShip Association that cruise ship lines will cover the state's costs to track wastewater discharges from large cruise liners.

Last year, the DOE spent approximately $47,500 to inspect the wastewater treatment systems aboard the large ships, collect and test wastewater samples, review records, monitor compliance and prepare reports. This year, the Port will reimburse the DOE for those costs, and collect that amount from NWCA-member ships - the large liners that sail between Seattle and Alaska from April to October each year - as part of their moorage fees.

The three parties plan to make a similar financial agreement each year.

"This cost arrangement ensures that Ecology can continue its work on the cruise ship agreement, which adds protection to Puget Sound and other Washington marine waters," said David Peeler, who manages the DOE’s water-quality program. "Like on-shore wastewater permit holders, these ships will now cover the state's costs for overseeing their discharges."

"This is another great example of the Port and the cruise industry working cooperatively in the interest of environmental stewardship to protect the waters of our state," said Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton.

The agreement bans cruise ships from discharging wastewater in Washington waters unless the ship uses advanced wastewater treatment technology required in Alaskan waters. Each ship must obtain approval from Ecology before discharging with an advanced system in Washington. Ships may discharge only while underway at least a mile from berth, unless they have enhancements - approved by Ecology - that exceed Alaskan requirements.

The Port of Seattle expects 18 ships to make 189 port calls in Seattle this year.