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Ship Shape: Bring Ship Discharge Standards into the 21st Century

Posted May. 14, 2009 / Posted by: RConnors

Right now, cruise ships and other large ocean going vessels are getting a free pass because the standards for dumping their sewage are over 30 years old!  We recently submitted a petition to the U.S. EPA urging it to bring large ship sewage dumping standards into the 21st century. The EPA’s standards were set in 1976, based on pollution treatment technology available at the time. More than 30 years later, those standards have yet to be updated to take into account modern technology.

The EPA’s failure to take action is made even more egregious by that fact that in almost every case, the outdated technology allowed by the standards fails to protect water quality -- as demonstrated by EPA’s own analysis of cruise ship discharges. Under pressure from us, the EPA preformed a study of cruise ship discharges and found that cruise ship discharges using this older technology contain concentrations of bacteria, chlorine, nutrients, metals and other pollutants that are harmful to human health and the marine environment.  EPA’s testing demonstrated that cruise ships using the old technology violated the current EPA standard an average of over 10,000 times!

Despite the demonstrated failure of EPA’s current standards to control pollution discharges from cruise ships, EPA has never updated those standards.

The EPA acknowledged, almost nine years ago, that current vessel sewage standards may no longer be sufficiently stringent in light of available new technologies.  We are calling on the EPA to take its own advice by acting now to revise its 30 year old pollution standards and better protect the oceans and waters where ships travel.

Our Petition to the EPA | Media Release

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