Washington DC -- Cruise ship dumping within 12 miles of the US coastline will be prohibited under a federal bill
being introduced Thursday, April 14, by a bi-partisan group that includes Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and
Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT). The Clean Cruise Ship Act will revamp
outdated environmental laws that now allow the rapidly expanding fleet of luxury liners to dump millions of
gallons of sewage and polluted wastewater overboard every day. The bill was introduced last year, but was not
heard by Congress.
“The time to bring these pleasure polluters under control is long overdue,” said Teri Shore, Campaign Director
for Bluewater Network, a national environmental group that drafted key provisions in the bill after waiting five
years for US EPA to respond to its petition to reduce cruise pollution. “This bill provides a simple solution to a
very messy problem—human feces and dirty water trailing behind cruise ships sailing our coasts.”
The bill is needed because cruise ships legally discharge millions of gallons of sewage and dirty waters into
US coastal waters and ports every day. Human waste from ships is more concentrated that any generated on
shore. It is well documented that human feces from any source can contaminate bathing beaches, shellfish
eaten by humans and marine life, and sensitive estuaries and coastal waters.
Cruise ships are equipped to contain and treat wastes before discharging 12 miles offshore or beyond.
Despite cruise industry claims, voluntary industry standards are not monitored or enforced and new
treatment systems do not remove all pollutants, such as metals, chemicals and nitrogen.
The Clean Cruise Ship Act will: prohibit discharges of treated or untreated sewage (including sewage sludge),
graywater and bilge water from cruise ships within 12 miles of U.S. shores; establish effluent limits for
treated sewage and graywater discharged beyond 12 miles; provide for inspection of discharge operations
and equipment, including sampling and monitoring, as well as pilot programs for onboard observers and the
use of transponders; implement whistleblower protection for employees who report employers’
noncompliance; empower citizens to commence a civil action against anyone in violation of the Act; and
enact penalty provisions for violations.
Alaska, California and Maine have already enacted new cruise pollution laws; Washington and Hawaii
are working to convert voluntary agreements into enforceable laws. A national law would provide a
consistent standard for all US waters.
Cruise ships are floating cities, carrying 5,000 or more people that on a one-week voyage can generate
--1.5 million gallons of “graywater” (wastewater from sinks, showers, galleys, and laundry facilities)
--200,000 gallons of sewage, and
--35,000 gallons of oil-contaminated water
The cruise industry has a legacy of polluting our seas. From 1993 to 2003, cruise ships committed more than 300
acts of dumping oil, garbage, hazardous waste, sewage and graywater, violating air pollution laws, inflicting
damage to coral reefs, and falsifying environmental records, paying more than $80 million in fines and restitution.