ISSUE: CRUISE SHIP POLLUTION
ntroductionCruise ships can carry up to 5,000 people and create tremendous amounts of waste. During a one-week trip, a
typical cruise ship produces 50 tons of garbage, 1 million gallons of graywater (wastewater from sinks, showers, galleys,
and laundry facilities), 210,000 gallons of sewage and 35,000 gallons of oil-contaminated water.(1)
Between 1993 and 1998, there were 87 confirmed illegal discharges from cruise ships in state waters (81 cases involving oil;
6 involving garbage or plastic). An additional 17 “other alleged incidents” were referred to the countries where
the cruise ships were registered. The industry paid more than $30 million in fines for violations and three cruise lines were
placed on five-year felony probations.(2)
Until recently, little state or federal action has taken place to sufficiently address the pollution associated with the
cruise ship industry. A few coastal states have passed laws to address this issue. Other states have entered into a “Memorandum
of Understanding,” or MOU, with cruise ship companies. These agreements are based on trust, not the law, and do not
have the same teeth as regulations. The industry violated MOUs it entered into with both Alaska and Hawaii, prompting each
state to pursue legislation addressing cruise ship pollution.
A study of §312 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) by the National Association of Attorneys General found that the CWA
does not preempt more stringent state regulations in this area, such as state reporting requirements.(3)
Section 510 of the CWA specifically authorizes states to adopt and enforce more stringent standards or limits on discharges,
and more stringent controls and abatement of pollution, than is required under the CWA. It prohibits states from adopting
more lenient – but not more stringent – standards than provided under the CWA.(4)
Although air pollution is not the primary focus of this state activity page, diesel emissions from cruise ships while at
port are a significant source of air pollution; an estimated one-third of ship emissions occur while they are idling at berth.
While docked, vessels shut off their main engines but use auxiliary diesel and steam engines to power refrigeration, lights,
pumps, and other functions. Replacing auxiliary engines with on-shore electric power could significantly reduce emissions,
a process dubbed “cold-ironing.”(5)
The Clean Cruise Ship Act of 2004 (S 2271 / HR 4101) was introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate with bipartisan support. The act would prevent cruise ships from dumping
sewage and polluted water into coastal waters. Federal action that specifically addresses cruise ship pollution is necessary
because it will help deter the industry from dumping off the coast of states that have no pertinent law. Both bills are in
Read the Latest News
Check out Port Watch, the new blog by Teri Shore, Bluewater Network's Clean Vessels campaign director.
Friends of the Earth and EarthJustice may sue the US EPA for failing to
meet the April 27th deadline for regulating ship emissions.
California Senators co-sponsor bill to slash ship smokestack pollution- cleaner ship fuels
and engines would be required on all ships calling on U.S. Ports.
Victory for curbing ship
Bluewater Network, along
with other Groups, Call for Big Cuts in Shipping Industry Air Pollution.
Bluewater Network Urges
California to Act Quickly to Reduce Port Emissions.
Bluewater Network urges
IMO to strengthen international air pollution standards and to set standards for shoreside power for ships:
- Read the two new papers submitted through Friends
of the Earth International for meetings in March and April 2006: Shoreside Power and Air Pollution
Ships Required to Use Cleaner Fuels In California Waters:
Greening California's Seaports, Living on Earth, National Public Radio, January 6, 2006
Ship Emissions: 'We Need to Turn a Corner', fuelsustainability.com, January 3, 2006
California Governor Signs Ship Dumping and Trash Burning Ban
Environmental groups hail IMO's Annex VI revision promise, Bunkerworld, September 2005
New calls to control ship exhaust emissions, Numast Telegraph, September, 2005
Bluewater' letter urging the ratification of an international treaty on preventing air pollution from ships
Ship Air Pollution and Environmental Justice submissions by Bluewater Network and Friends of the Earth International to the International Maritime Organization, July
Protesters Target Marine Pollution, Lloyd's List, July 19, 2005
Port Community Bill of Rights submitted to the International Maritime Organization
Fact Sheet on why the U.S. should ratify Annex VI
California Assembly Joint Resolution 8 calling for Annex VI Ratification co-sponsored by Bluewater Network
California bill SB 771 would ban ship dumping and on-board incineration. Read the
Press Release and Fact Sheet.
Comments to the California Air Resources Board on shipping and ports:
1. Shoreside power for ships
2. Harborcraft engines and fuels
3. Ship auxiliary engines
4. Ports and goods movement
EPA Lawsuit Decision Allows Shipping Pollution to Grow
Shipping Air Pollution Treaty Sets Global Standards
Bluewater Network provides environmental perspective at Air and Waste Management Association conference
on marine emissions in Seattle, April 2004. Click to view powerpoint presentation.
Where There's Smoke, There's Pollution -- an op-ed by Bluewater Network's Russell
Long in The New York Times
Study Shows Greater Ship Emissions (November 12, 2003)
Conservationists Sue EPA Again Seeking Real Regulation of Air Pollution Spewed by Sea-Going
Bush Administration Backslides on Final Regulation for Sea-Going Vessel Air Pollution
Bush Administration issues "toothless" regulations for sea going vessels
Shipping Air Pollution Fact Sheet
Petition to the International Maritime Organization: letter signed by 29 groups urging the agency to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from
A Stacked Deck: report detailing the tremendous air pollution pumped out of the big ships
Read Bluewater Network's comments to the EPA on the ship emissions rulemaking.