Cruise Ship Pollution Taken to Task in Washington

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Cruise lines have been at the forefront of enacting measures to curb cruise ship pollution and ameliorate any negative impact ships may have on the world's oceans. In effect, cruise line efforts have run concurrently with the all-too-recent global-wide endeavor to green the Earth. However, it appears that the cruise lines efforts are not enough.

Lawmakers in Washington are looking to crack down further on cruise ship pollution. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is introducing the Clean Cruise Ship Act, which seeks to protect the world's oceans and the Great Lakes from pollution by raising current control standards. The act would create coastal zones where cruise ships would be prohibited from dumping waste and new standards for waste treatment. Alaska state legislators have already passed similar legislation that helps safeguard its local waters from cruise ship pollution.

Durbin, in introducing the legislation, cited the large size of today's cruise ships and the "500,000 gallons of sewage, 37,000 gallons of oily bilge water and more than 1.7 million gallons of wastewater from sinks, showers, laundry and galleys" they generate. Regulations governing the cruise ship industry, he said, were written in the 1970's when ships were relatively small compared to the ones plying the oceans today.

Durbin's bill would establish stronger standards and disallow ships from discharging byproducts such as sewage, gray water and bilge water within 12 miles of shore.

Durbin also cited reports from the EPA, which state that cruise ship pollution is a threat to human health and ocean environments. "A century ago President Theodore Roosevelt committed this nation to the critical goal of preserving our land," he said. "Today we have a similar responsibility  to the seas that cover 70 percent of our planet."

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