JUNEAU, Alaska -- A "properly maintained, well-managed, modern
cruise ship" will not release harmful levels of chemicals or
bacteria into Alaskan waters, according to a recent report.
The two-year study, issued by the Alaska Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC), showed tougher regulations --
which set discharge parameters and require waste water to be
discharged while ships are moving -- "appear to effectively limit
the impact of discharge on Alaska receiving waters."
One federal and one state law, both passed in 2001, created
discharge limits for blackwater (sewage) and graywater (shower and
kitchen water), respectively, according to Denise Koch, manager of
the DEC's commercial passenger vessel environmental compliance
"In the 1990s, Alaskans started getting increasingly concerned
about the high volume of cruise ships, especially in southeast
Alaska," Koch said.
The study was conducted over a two-year period by an independent
panel of oceanographers, microbiologists and engineers, the DEC
said, who conducted tests onboard Alaska-operating cruise ships and
collected environmental documents from some of the lines.
The conclusions were reached under the assumption that the ships
were sailing "in full compliance with government regulations."
Of the 25 large cruise ships -- those with more than 250
overnight passengers -- operating in Alaska in 2002, each vessel
generated 150,000 gallons of graywater and blackwater per day;
however, "three years of sampling and analysis have not indicated
vessels are using this pathway as a source of hazardous waste
disposal," the report said.
The panelists recommended the state more closely regulate
smaller cruise ships, which have a greater leeway to discharge
wastewater, and introduce limits for the use of chlorine in waste
water treatment systems.
The study did not check discharge associated with bilge and
ballast water, something Koch said the DEC might investigate -- but
would expand the study to include all vessels, not just cruise