Lawsuit Seeks EPA Action on Cruise Ship Pollution
WASHINGTON, DC (ENS) - Friends of the Earth filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, today, seeking an immediate response to a seven year old cruise ship pollution petition submitted in March of 2000.
The petition was circulated on behalf of 53 organizations by Bluewater Network, which is now part of Friends of the Earth. It asked the EPA to assess and regulate pollution from cruise ships. The agency has still not responded.
After issuing a cruise pollution white paper in August 2000 and holding public hearings in September 2000 during the Clinton era, the EPA did nothing further under the Bush administration.
Over the past seven years, calls for a national regime for regulating cruise ship dumping have been made by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission with no response by the federal agency.
'Our oceans are suffering and can't wait any longer,' said Teri Shore, campaign director for Friends of the Earth. 'Another recordbreaking cruise ship season has started and the nation's waters remain at risk.'
'The lawsuit only asks the court to require the EPA to do what the law says it must - respond to Friends of the Earth's petition,' said Professor Michael Robinson-Dorn of the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Washington, in Seattle,who prepared the case on behalf of Friends of the Earth.
The cruise industry has expanded by 107 percent over the past 10 years, according to 'Cruise Industry News' Winter 2006/2007, with no new national environmental protections.
About 100 cruise vessels will carry more than 12 million passengers through North American waters this year, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.
Cruise ship size and capacity is expanding, with many ships now transporting 5,000 passengers and crew and the next generation of ships planned to carry as many as 8,500 passengers and crew.
Friends of the Earth points out that a typical one-week voyage with 3,000 people on board generates about 210,000 gallons of sewage, one million gallons of graywater and 37,000 gallons of oily bilge water, figures given by the EPA.
Under the Clean Water Act, wastewater treatment requirements for ships are limited and apply only near shore. Cruise ships can discharge raw sewage beyond three miles from shore, and no treatment of graywater is required anywhere.
Treated sewage and oily bilge water can be released into harbors, estuaries and coastal waters without monitoring. By contrast, landside dischargers of sewage need federal permits and must report daily on levels of pollutants in discharges.
Four of the 16 states with cruise ships calling on their ports have enacted their own laws - California, Alaska, Maine, and Hawaii.