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Getting a grip on cruise ship pollution

Posted Nov. 30, 2009 / Posted by: RConnors

Friends of the Earth issues comprehensive report on the environmental impacts of the cruise industry

Cruise Report CoverWith the enormous growth of the cruise industry in the past 10 years and the December 1 launch of the largest cruise ship ever built – Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas – Friends of the Earth has taken an extensive look at the environmental footprint and practices of the cruise industry, an industry that has long avoided comprehensive environmental regulation and pollution controls. 

Authored by cruise industry expert, Ross Klein, Getting a Grip On Cruise Ship Pollution looks at all aspects of the cruise industry from its pollution streams, to its history of environmental violations, to the modest number of environmental laws that govern the industry.  The report also contains a wide-ranging set of recommendations that provide solutions for comprehensive environmental reform of the cruise industry.

The marine environment is by many accounts under siege.  Increasingly common are news stories of dying coral reefs, of dead zones in coastal oceans, and of forms of sea life becoming extinct or seriously threatened.  At the same time, the cruise industry continues to grow with little sign of slowing.  At the end of 2008, the industry was operating 189 cruise ships worldwide with close to 10 million passengers departing from North American ports in 2008 alone.

At the same time, the environmental pollution generated by cruise ships is enormous:

Cruise Ship Air Pollution:
Cruise ships emit particulates that cause health problems like athsma, as well as more heat-trapping carbon dioxide per passenger mile than aircraft and trains.  Most cruise ships burn bunker fuel, which is 1,000 times dirtier than the fuel burned in diesel trucks. 

Cruise Ship Water Pollution:
In one week, an average cruise ship generates 210,000 gallons of human sewage (filling approximately ten swimming pools) and 1 million gallons (40 more swimming pools) of gray water (from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys), all of which can be legally dumped untreated just 3 nautical miles from U.S. shores.

Cruise Ship Environmental Violations:
Between 1993 and 1998, the U.S. government charged 104 cruise ships with illegal discharges of oil, garbage, and/or hazardous wastes, resulting in over $55 million in fines for the industry since 1998. 

Download a copy of Getting a Grip On Cruise Ship Pollution.
Read our press release.

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