NEW YORK -- An "interim summary" of waste-disposal data released
earlier this month by Alaska's Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) found "no problems with ambient air quality in
downtown Juneau," a possible improvement in overall cruise ship air
emissions and "inconclusive information on wastewater discharges."
The data were compiled from Alaska-bound cruise ships during the
Mike Conway, a DEC spokesman, said the tests were from the first
half of the season and therefore incomplete.
Under a new state law sponsored by Gov. Tony Knowles and enacted
earlier this year, cruise ships sailing in Alaska are required to
sample their waste water, analyze it and report results back to the
Under the law, cruise ships that cannot meet "black water" (raw
waste water) treatment standards must discharge at least three
miles from Alaska shores.
"We committed to release midseason data, [but] we're waiting for
the rest of the picture before drawing conclusions," according to
Most of the testing was done under a voluntary monitoring
program in effect before July 1, Conway said.
He also acknowledged that "until new waste-water treatment
systems using state-of-the-art technology are installed and
proven," more than half of the large Alaska-bound ships are legally
discharging blackwater outside the three-mile limit, leaving them
out of the monitoring program, as well. In all, 13 of 24 vessels
are not participating in the monitoring program.
"Fewer ships are discharging wastewater into the waters of the
Inside Passage this season," according to David Rogers, deputy
director of DEC's air and water quality division.
"We'll know more when the final data is in and analyzed at the
end of the season," he added.
The report also revealed:
• DEC is reviewing 19 of 238 smokestack opacity readings for
potential violations. The readings were taken in Juneau, Skagway
• Twenty-nine wastewater samples from holding tanks of five
ships show "considerable variability in conventional