Oct 27, 2009

Dick Durbin, Sam Farr Speak Up for Clean Cruise Ship Act

New legislation would amend Clean Water Act

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin introduced legislation on Oct. 21 to extend the Clean Water Act, according to a report from Environment News Service.

The bill is known as the Clean Cruise Ship Act, and it is intended to prevent the release of untreated sewage into U.S. coastal waters and the Great Lakes, according to Environment News Service. The report also noted that California Democrat Congressman Sam Farr also introduced this type of legislation, also called the Clean Cruise Ship Act.

"The average cruise ship produces over 1.2 million gallons of wastewater every week," Durbin said in the Environment News Service report. "Today, there are more than 230 cruise ships operating around the world, generating millions of gallons of wastewater daily. Under the current system, these ships can directly dump their waste into our oceans and the Great Lakes with minimal oversight."

Under current legislation, cruise ships can dump untreated sewage three miles from shore, the report said. Both new pieces of legislation would extend the prohibited distance to 12 miles from shore.

Sewage dumped any closer to shore would have to be treated, and the bills prohibit dumping any sewage sludge, incinerator ash and hazardous waste, according to the Environment News Service report.

The Environment News Service report also cited a December 2008 Environmental Protection Agency report that found the current marine sanitation devices required for dumping wastes within three miles to be inadequate.

"Big cruise ships make for big pollution; it's an unavoidable truth," said Congressman Farr in the Environment News Service report. “Unfortunately, responsible disposal of that waste hasn't always been a given. The cruise ship industry is way overdue to take responsibility for its actions.

"The Monterey Peninsula saw what happens when things go wrong after thousands of gallons of wastewater were dumped off our coastline. It's ironic that the cruise industry relies on a clean ocean and pristine coastlines for its livelihood, but doesn't put in the effort to sustain them. This carelessness must not be allowed to continue."