"F" for Transparency: Cruise Lines Refuse to Release Environmental Practices

The Friends of the Earth (FOE) non-profit organization just released its "Cruise Ship Report Card" for 2014. In a press release, the FOE states that "cruise ships dumped more than a billion gallons of sewage in the ocean this year, much of it raw or poorly treated . . " 

The amount of raw sewage discharged from cruise ships is truly staggering. Cruise ships are permitted to dump untreated raw fecal matter directly into the ocean, just three miles or more from shore.

For anyone who knows the cruise industry's dismal environmental record, the fact that cruise ships dump raw sewage from the bowels of its ships is hardly new. But what's remarkable this year is that the entire cruise industry - through its trade organization Cruise Line International Organization (CLIA) - Cruise Ship Pollutionrefused to respond to Friends of the Earth’s requests for information on pollution-reduction technologies. The FOE believes that the cruise industry is trying to stifle scrutiny of dirty cruise ship environmental practices

The Good News

The FOE ranked Disney Cruise Line, a/k/a Magical Cruise Company, as the most environmentally responsible line, earning an "A" for sewage treatment.

The Bad News

The worst offender is Carnival Cruise Line by a long shot. Carnival has the world's largest fleet of 24 cruise ships but, according to the FOE, only two ships with advanced sewage treatment technology. It earned an "F" for sewage treatment again this year.

According to the FOE, "over 40 percent of the 167 ships in operation still operate using waste treatment technology that’s more than 35 years old."

The Sad News

The FOE also grades cruise ships for air pollution. Unfortunately, most cruise lines burn filthy high-sulfur fuels including nasty bunker fuels. According to the EPA, each day an average cruise ship is at sea it emits more sulfur dioxide than 13 million cars and more soot than 1 million cars.  

You can see a copy of the report here.

Earlier this year, we published videos of MSC crew members dumping bags of plastic and oily discharge into a marine sanctuary from a cruise ship.  Many crew members state that this is common practice at night. The FOE gave MSC an "F."

All cruise lines received an "F" for their lack of transparency.

Friends of the Earth Sue EPA Over Cruise & Cargo Ship Sewage

Yesterday the Friends of the Earth (FOE) filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington D.C. against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to force the federal agency to regulate sewage discharges from cruise ships and other vessels in U.S. waters.

As the Palm Beach Post points out, cruise ships alone dumped more than one billion gallons of sewage in the ocean last year. And much of what cruise ships discharge is poorly treated.

The FOE stated: "Cruise ships with populations the size of small towns ply the waters off our coasts and massive cargo ships carrying goods to our ports produce and then dump large amounts of partially Cruise Pollution treated sewage and other wastes into our oceans. 

“The EPA is required under the Clean Water Act to protect people who swim, boat, and fish in waters affected by ship sewage discharges. Modern sewage treatment options are available for relatively low cost, but EPA hasn’t updated it regulations to reflect those advances since 1976. As a result, ships can dump bacteria-laden wastewater in some of our most valuable waters."

You can read the lawsuit here.

As we have mentioned in the past, the FOE "grades" the cruise lines for their treatment of the environment. Last year, the FOE report card contained F's for Costa, Crystal, MSC and P&O. Royal Caribbean received a C and Carnival received a C-.  Disney received an A.

Here's how the cruise lines have treated the planet over the last few years:

Enemies of the Environment? Costa, Crystal & P&O Cruises Flunk Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card, While Carnival & Royal Caribbean Receive "D+" (2012)

Cruise Ships Turn British Columbia Waters into "Toilet Bowel of Raw Sewage" (2010)

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution (2009)

The cruise industry claims that it is the "guardian of the seas." But this year we posted videos of MSC Cruises dumping garbage bags and plastic materials into the waters of Brazil.

 

Image credit: Cruise Ship Cartoon Shields via earthisland.org and Campaign to Safeguard America's Waterways 

Did Splendor of the Seas or Other Cruise Ships Dump Sewage Near Turtle Beach in Brazil?

A reader of Cruise News in Brazil sent us an article from a Brazilian newspaper indicating that swimmers (including children) at a public beach near Búzios City, Brazil reported to the hospital with irritated eyes, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems.

The beach is called Praia da Tartaruga (Turtle Beach).

According to the newspaper Globo, public environmental officials in Brazil reportedly believe that the health problems may have been caused by discharge from one of three cruise ships in the area.

Samples were taken from the three cruise ships which called on the city of Búzios (north of Rio de Splendor of the Seas BrazilJaneiro) to compare them with contaminated water collected at the public beach. 

The three cruise ships have not been identified. However, the newspaper contains a photograph of the Royal Caribbean Splendor of the Seas. The newspaper indicates that the aerial photograph was taken by Secretary of State for Environment, Indio da Costa. Discolored water was observed around the cruise ship. The Brazilian official is quoted saying (translated):

"Still can not know what contaminated water, but we are almost certain that the problem was caused by the release of untreated sewage or treated irregularly by one of the ships docked in Buzios." 

The health authorities closed the beach due to the polluted water. 

The newspaper states that fines for polluting the waters of Brazil can reach $50 million, according to Brazil's Secretary of State for Environment.

The Brazilian cruise organization denied that the polluted water came from cruise ships. It said that the cruise companies comply with the guidelines a set by the MARPOL Convention (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships). 

It is unknown to us whether the Sovereign of the Seas or any other cruise ships were dumping anything in the Brazilian waters, or whether the discolored water around the Sovereign as shown in the photographs is attributable to silt being churned up by the ship's engines, the decomposition of algae or some other explanation. 

The test results are expected to be ready by Wednesday. We will identify the other cruise ships in the area as soon as we obtain this information.

We recently discussed an incident involving a MSC cruise ship which reportedly was caught dumping black garbage bags off the coast of Brazil near a marine sanctuary, after making a transatlantic crossing. A cruise passenger videotaped the dumpingSplendor of the Seas Brazil

 Photos Credit: Indio da Costa, Secretary of Environment from the State of Rio de Janeiro via Globo.com

Is Carnival Dream Turning Into the Carnival Nightmare?

CNN reports this morning that passengers aboard the Dream contacted the news channel, stating that there are power outages and overflowing toilets on the cruise ship which is in port at Philipsburg, St. Maarten, in the eastern Caribbean. The ship was supposed to leave port yesterday at 5:00 PM.

CNN quotes a passenger from North Carolina saying:

"We are not allowed off of the boat despite the fact that we have no way to use the restrooms on board . . . The cruise director is giving passengers very limited information and tons of empty promises. What was supposed to take a hour has turned into 7-plus hours."

Another passenger tells CNN: "There's human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms and they're overflowing -- and in the state rooms. The elevators have not been working. They've been turning them on and off, on and off." 

CNN quotes the U.S. Coast Guard saying that Carnival notified it that the Dream is experiencing "generator issues." 

The incident occurs while the cruise industry is conducting its annual convention, "Cruise Shipping Miami." Carnival President Gerry Cahill told the convention audience that disabled cruise ships are "very rare."

Early this morning Carnival released a statement saying: "At no time did the ship lose power but there were periodic interruptions to elevators and toilets for a few hours last night . . . At present the ship has full power and all hotel systems are functioning normally and have been functional since approximately 12.30 a.m."

If the ship never lost power why is it still in port 16 hours past schedule? 

A webcam link posted by a Cruise Critic member shows the Dream still in port as of 9:00 AM this morning.

The Dream's webcam is here.

Reuters quotes Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss in Miami saying “Right now the passengers are being kept on board the ship for accountability reasons.  They were scheduled to leave today so the captain has decided to have everybody remain on board at this time.”

If you are on the ship or have information to share, please leave a message or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (Kuloskulos)

The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

In 2006, Alaskan citizens sent a clear message to the cruise industry that cruise ships could not treat the beautiful waters of Alaska like a toilet.  

Seven years ago Alaskan voters approved legislation that prohibited cruise ships from discharging "untreated sewage, treated sewage, graywater or other wastewaters in a manner that violates any applicable effluent limits or standards under state or federal law, including Alaska Water Quality Standards governing pollution at the point of discharge.” 

Alaska Salmon Fisheries - Cruise Ship PollutionThe Alaskan regulations strictly restricted the level of ammonia, copper, nickel and zinc.  As of 2009, cruise ships were routinely being caught violating the Alaska regulations.  In this chart, in 2009 alone, there were forty-one (41) violations of Alaska'a waster water and air emission laws by Celebrity, HAL, NCL, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Silverseas, with Carnival-owned Princess and HAL cruise ships being the greatest offenders. 

The Miami-based cruise industry is used to getting its way. Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are used to dumping untreated sewage in the waters of powerless Caribbean countries. Most port nations and even most states in the U.S. where the cruise lines base their cruise ships have not enacted any waste water discharge regulations whatsoever.  

But Alaska was different,  It not only passed legislation that banned the nasty cruise line practice of opening the bowels of the huge ships into the state's waters but it took steps to levy a realistic head tax of $50 per passenger to offset the damage to Alaska's infrastructure caused by the massive cruise ships.

The cruise lines did not like Alaska's exercise of its state rights one bit. The cruise industry spent millions of dollars lobbying against waste water regulations. It attacked the green water scientists, removed the honest water experts from oversight panels, inserted cruise industry hacks, and bullied state officials and concerned citizens.  

Carnival led the charge. It threatened Alaskan Governor Parnell that it would pull its ships from Alaska and it sued the state along with other cruise lines to avoid the $50 head tax.

Alaskan Governor Parnell backed down and sent a message to the cruise industry that the state's water emission laws are negotiable. Alaska caved in and reduced its $50 head tax. Alaska began sliding down the slippery slope as the cruise lines increased their lobbying and threatened to boycott Alaska. 

The result today is that at Governor Parnell's urging, the House of Representatives just voted to essentially repeal all of the 2006 waster water initiatives. The debate is now moving to the Senate.

A repeal of the 2006 laws will be disastrous to the waters of Alaska.

Alaskan Cruise Ship - Pollution Waste WaterAs explained in this thoughtful blog, "a single cruise ship produces 210,000 gallons of sewage, over a million gallons of greywater, 130 gallons of hazardous wastes such as poisonous metals, and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water in a single week-long cruise. There are 28 very large cruise ships which operate up to 150 days annually in Alaska. Such large quantities of pollution are a threat to Alaska’s critical fisheries." 

This results is approximately 1,064,448,000 gallons of sewage and wastewater being dumped into Alaska state waters every year. The really sinister part of the abandonment of the pollution laws is that Republicans rejected Democratic amendments which would have required disclosure of the location of sewage discharges and protected fisheries from sewage discharges.

The thought of the cruise industry dumping over a billion gallons of cruise ship crap into the salmon filled waters is really gross.  They can keep the locations secret too.  I hate to think of all of the norovirus-laden poop floating around with the fish.  But this is the reality of a cruise industry which projects itself as a steward of the seas but is actually the Alaskan waters' worst enemy.

 

Photo:

Salmon - earthjustice.com

Enemies of the Environment? Costa, Crystal & P&O Cruises Flunk Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card, While Carnival & Royal Caribbean Receive "D+"

The "environmental report card" for the cruise industry is out and the grades for some of the major cruise lines are ugly.

Costa, Crystal and P&O Cruises all received failed grades on the report card prepared by the highly respected environmental group Friends of the Earth ("FOE"). The non-profit organization analysis the cruise lines' environmental footprint in terms of sewage treatment and air pollution reduction. FOE handed these three polluting cruise lines a "F."

The fact that Crystal is at the bottom of the class is no surprise. It has always been an environmental scoundrel. 

In 2003, the Crystal Harmony dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a beautiful marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay. According to the L.A. Times, Crystal Cruises said it didn't have to report the incident to authorities because it broke no laws. It is "perfectly legal" under maritime laws to discharge even untreated wastewater more than 12 miles offshore, and the ship was 14 miles offshore at the time, said Crystal spokeswoman Mimi Weisband.

Air Pollution - Cruise Ship "We didn't break any law," Weisband said. "We did break a promise." The city of Monterey thereafter banned all Crystal cruise ships for life.

In the 2010 FOE report card, Crystal Cruises also received the lowest grade - "F." Cruise spokesperson Weisband responded by saying that Crystal Cruises "deserved an A ... if not an A+."

At the other end of the polluting spectrum is Disney which received a "A-."  This month the Disney Wonder will be arriving at the Port of Miami and by 2014 there will be four Disney cruise ships ported in the state of Florida with the Magic joining the Dream and Fantasy in Port Canaveral.

You can read the scores of all of the cruise lines and about 150 of their cruise ships here. Big boys Carnival and Royal Caribbean received "D+'s."  In the last environmental report card in 2010, Carnival received a "F" and Royal Caribbean received a "D-."  

Expect the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), which is fighting against clean air regulations and opposing restrictions on deadly bunker/ high sulfur fuels, to make a statement today claiming that the FOE report card is "not scientific," "biased," "arbitrary," "flawed" or whatever.  Sounds like what I told my mom when my ninth grade teacher gave me a "D" in Algebra II after I didn't study all year.   

December 6, 2012 Update: The Sun Sentinel newspaper covered the story yesterday. Its article contained the usual denials by the cruise lines.  CLIA is quoted saying: the report card "lacks basis in fact, science and law . . . The grades assigned cruise lines and their ships are based upon arbitrary, faulty and misleading measures."
 

Consider some of our other articles:

Deadly Cruise Ship Emissions Equal Sulfur Dioxide Spewed From 13,100,000 Cars A Day, But Cruise Lines Fight Air Pollution Laws

Cruise Ship Dumping of Trash & Feces Conflicts With Industry's Image as Steward of the Seas
 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship - AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Sewage Spews From Sinks & Erupts From Drains Aboard Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

The Palm Beach Post News / WPTV reports that ten passengers aboard the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship  experienced a cruise they will never forget.

Raw sewage was coming out of sinks and overflowing from the shower drains. The mess leached out into the bathroom floors and into the hallway.  One young woman said: "It was brown and disgusting, and the smell was unmistakable."

Another passenger took photographs showing "brown sludge oozing out of each drain, including the sink and the shower."

E-coli with your water anyone?  

 

 

The last time the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship was in the news was when a woman from Canada disappeared while cruising with her boyfriend.   

California Ban On Cruise Dumping To Be Enforced

The San Jose Mercury News reports that the Obama administration will enforce a California law designed to prohibit cruise ships from dumping any kind of sewage -- even highly filtered wastewater -- along California's coast out to three miles from shore.

California will now have among the strictest laws in the nation limiting pollution from large ships.

"This is going to cover the entire California coastline," said state Senator Joe Simitian "Oceangoing vessels should not consider our coastline a place for dumping sewage."

In 2005, Simitian wrote a bill that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger which signed banning sewage discharges in state waters from cruise ships. The bill -- the first of its kind in the nation -- made it Crystal Harmony - Pollution - Dumping Sewageillegal for such ships to discharge oily bilge water, "gray water" from sinks and showers and other hazardous waste. But a key provision that also banned sewage releases could not legally take effect until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave permission under the federal Clean Water Act.  The Bush administration did not act on California's request to enforce the state law.

The impetus behind the bill was a cruise dumping incident in In 2003.  The Crystal Harmony (photo left) dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay.  

According to the L.A. Times, Crystal Cruises said didn't have to report the incident to authorities because it broke no laws. It is "perfectly legal" under maritime laws to discharge even untreated wastewater more than 12 miles offshore, and the ship was 14 miles offshore at the time, said Crystal spokeswoman Mimi Weisband. 

"We didn't break any law," Weisband said. "We did break a promise."

The city of Monterey thereafter banned all Crystal cruise ships for life. 

"I remember picking up the paper and thinking, 'you gotta be kidding me,' " Senator Simitian said. "Their answer was 'we didn't break any rules.' I remember thinking, if this isn't against the law it ought to be."

In the 2010 Green Report Card by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, Crystal Cruises received the lowest grade - "F."   Cruise spokesperson Weisband responded by saying that Crystal Cruises "deserved an A ... if not an A+."

Reason No. 8 Not To Cruise: Blackwater, Blackwater, Blackwater

Preparation for a trial delayed our "Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise."  But here we go again with the reasons why you should think twice before spending your hard earned vacation dollars on a family cruise. Here's reason no. 8: 

BLACKWATER!

That nasty raw sewage which cruise lines can freely dump - completely untreated - just twelve miles from shore.  Yes, just twelve miles from that lovely beach you may be sitting on in Florida, or the marshes of South Carolina, or the oyster beds of Alabama.  Nasty, stinking feces from several thousands of passengers eating incredible amounts of food around the clock on hundreds of cruise ships each day.  

"Blackwater" is sewage, waste water from urinals and toilets, and waste from medical facilities.  Gross stuff.  It contains pathogens, viruses including norovirus (when an outbreak on the ship occurs), bacteria, and intestinal parasites. According to Friends of the Earth, a cruise ship on a one week voyage is estimated to generate 210,000 gallons (or 5 large swimming pools) of human sewage.

A cruise ship also generates 1 million gallons (33 more swimming pools) of gray water (water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys).  Cruise ships also generate large volumes of oily bilge water, sewage sludge, garbage and hazardous wastes. 

The cruise lines say that they usually (but not always) treat blackwater to "reduce" the fecal materials from toilets before dumping the waste into the oceans.  But the problem is that these devices (when used) do not eliminate the fecal matter.  "Marine sanitation systems," in particular, just don't work. 

Cruise Ship Pollution - Blackwater - Discharge Just last Fall, Princess Cruises, repeatedly violated Alaskan waster water regulations:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.

In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.

Two weeks ago, on Earth Day, the New York Times rightfully called the cruise industry "Notorious Polluters".  Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines are all corporate felons for dumping untreated sewage and oily discharges and falsifying their log books to cover the crime up.   

The cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) which has spent $8,000,000 in the last two years lobbying against Congressional oversight, wrote a letter to the New York Times.  Upset about the "notorious polluters" label, CLIA claimed that "cruise lines have a vested interest in the pristine environments they visit, and they take their stewardship responsibility very seriously."

When I hear PR rubbish like this, I remember what Attorney General Reno Reno said when she  leveled felony charges against Royal Caribbean for its repeated pollution, cover-ups, and lies:

".  .  . at the same time that their ships were sailing into the inland passage of Alaska, one of the most sensitive and beautiful eco-systems in our nation, their crew members were wearing buttons that said, 'Save the Waves.'  That's what they were wearing above deck.  Below deck, business as usual was going on and oily contaminated bilge water was being dumped overboard . . ."  

The LA Times also reported the Attorney General stating:

"Royal Caribbean used our nation's waters as its dumping ground even as it promoted itself as an environmentally 'green' company . . . " 

Just last week the cruise industry intimidated the state of Alaska with pulling its cruise ships if it didn't reduce taxes and relax many of its pollution controls. Take a moment and read "Alaska Reduces Taxes and Relaxes Pollution Standards For Bullying Cruise Lines." 

This is also an industry which retaliated against a "Green Water" Scientist so it could avoid pollution regulations. 

As a result of the cruise industry's lobbying and back-room deals, cruise ships are continuing to dump ammonia (from fecal matter), copper, nickel and zinc in Alaska's pristine waters.  

Stewardship responsibility?

What a joke.

 

For other information, consider reading:

Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?

Cruise Ships in South Carolina - Harmless Fun or Environmental Scourge?

Cruise Lines Urged to Shrink Their Footprints (New York Times)

 

Up Next?  Reason No. 9 Not To Cruise: Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!   

Earth Day - Spotlight on Cruising - A Dirty Business

Bunker Fuel - Air Pollution - Cruise ShipsCaitlin Burke returns as a guest blogger today to discuss environmental issues and the cruise industry.  We have written many articles about cruise ships and the problem with pollution

Black water, gray water, oily bilge water, sewage, bunker fuel, smokestack exhaust . . . all discharging and billowing out of cruise ships and into our ocean and air. 

According to Friends of the Earth, a large cruise ship (the largest of which can carry over 5,000 passengers and crew) on a one week voyage is estimated to generate 210,000 gallons (or 5 large swimming pools) of human sewage and 1 million gallons (33 more swimming pools) of gray water (water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys). Cruise ships also generate large volumes of oily bilge water, sewage sludge, garbage and hazardous wastes.

The few international regulations which apply to cruise ship discharges and emissions are archaic and are ignored by the cruise industry with little consequence.  

A few states, like Alaska, have strict state guidelines. But take a look at Cruise Junkie’s website and see how often cruise lines "comply" with waste water restrictions. A quick browse of the list leads to the conclusion that cruise ships are not so eco-friendly.

Oceania reports that "cruise ships are one of the largest sources of unregulated ocean pollution and exempt from the discharge permitting program of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s preeminent water pollution control law." Oceania further reports that "this means that the monitoring, inspection, reporting, and enforcement provisions of this law do not apply to cruise ships ... As a result, the public has no way of knowing whether or not they are following their corporate environmental policies."

The cruise industry’s practices has the attention of Congress. Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Sam Farr are on a mission to change the cruise industry. In October 2009, these Earth Day - Cruise PollutionCongressmen introduced two bills in both Houses of Congress to prevent cruise ships from discharging raw (untreated) sewage in U.S. coastal waters. Congressman Farr released a statement that "laws currently allowing cruise lines to dump untreated sewage three miles from the shore endangers public health, the environment and the economy."

Senator Durbin introduced "Durbin’s Bill," which will extend the Clean Water Act to regulate cruise ship wastewater. Congressman Farr introduced an almost identical bill. 

Both bills are commonly referred to as the Clean Cruise Ship Act.

In honor of Earth Day, I encourage you to do some research regarding the cruise industry’s practices of discharging waste and emitting bunker fuel particles.  Support the Clean Cruise Ship Act.  Make certain that you do your part to protect our waters and the air we breath.

"Generations come and generations go, but the Earth is forever."

Cruise Ships - Slick Marketing - Serious Pollution

For additional information, watch the Friends of the Earth Video "Investigating Cruise Ship Pollution."  

 

Credits:

Cruise Ship Cartoon      Shields via earthIsland.org and Campaign to Safeguard America's Waterways

Smokestack                  ScienceDaily.com

 

Cruise Ships in South Carolina - Harmless Fun or Environmental Scourge?

The Charleston City Paper has an interesting headline this morning - "Are Cruise Ship Harmless Fun Or An Environmental Scourge?"

The article raises the issue of how South Carolina will face its future as a state with a major cruise port.  Unlike progressive states like Alaska, California and Maine which regulate waste water discharges, the state of South Carolina has no state regulations relating to the cruise industry. This leaves the cruise lines subject to only lax international regulations, which have not been updated for a long time and which the cruise lines have routinely violated anyway. 

Cruise Ship Pollution - Bunker Fuel - Blackwater What's remarkable about the article is that it reveals that cruise lines can legally dump garbage and untreated sewage overboard when the ships are at least three miles offshore. 

Although the cruise industry claims that it dumps untreated sewage ("blackwater") only 12 miles from shore, the effects of the human waste from thousands of passengers and crew are disastrous.   The waste dumped by cruise ships into the water contains bacteria, pathogens, disease, intestinal parasites, pharmaceuticals, nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous and - whenever there is a norovirus outbreak - gallons and gallons of infected feces which, in turn, are consumed by fish and filter-fed by shellfish.

We have touched upon dumping feces just 12 miles off the coast of South Carolina before - "Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?"

You can carefully read all of the press releases and letters to the editors by the cruise industry, but  nowhere will you see a strict commitment from cruise lines not to dump untreated sewage.  This is not only gross, but its an unnecessary hazard to the health of humans, marine life and coral systems wherever cruise ships sail.  As pointed out by the non-profit organization Friends of the Earth:

"The contaminants in human waste and wastewater – known as blackwater or sewage – pose a risk to public health not only through the food supply, as fisheries and shellfish beds can be contaminated, but also through direct contamination of water ingested by surfers, beachgoers, and water-sport enthusiasts. In addition, blackwater contains nitrogen and phosphorus that promote excessive algal growth, which in turn consumes oxygen in the water and can lead to fish kills and the destruction of other aquatic life, including coral . . ."

Is cruising fun?  Is it harmful to the environment?  Yes, to both questions.

That's why South Carolina would be smart to protect its waters and its people from the scourge of cruise pollution and adopt wastewater regulations similar to those enacted in Alaska.

For additional information, consider reading: "Cruise Ships In Charleston."

 

Credits:

Photograph              Coastal Conversation League 

Polluting Cruises Lines Oppose Clean Air Law

The cruise industry is preparing to fight against clean air regulations which will protect the U.S. and Canada from the nasty bunker fuels burned by hundreds of cruise ships.

Reuters reports that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is proposing a plan to create a buffer zone around the U.S. and Canada which will require low emissions from cruise ships. 

 

 

We have reported on the cruise industry's use of high-sulfur bunker fuels in prior articles:

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

The Reuters article explains that the proposed "Emissions Control Area" will extend 200 nautical miles around the coast of the two nations and set stringent new limits on air pollution from ocean-going ships beginning in 2015.

The use of high sulfur fuel creates environmental and health problems.  In a prior article, we explained that cruise ships are using fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulfur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in Europe.  The largest ships emit as much as 5,000 tons of sulfur a year – the same as 50,000,000 cars, each releasing an average of only 100 grams of sulfur a year.

The sulfur comes out of ship funnels as tiny particles which are embedded deep into your lungs. The inhaled sulfur causes inflammation of the linings of the lungs, breathing problems, heart disease and cancer.  The major shipping routes of cargo ships and cruise ships bring these deadly emissions right into the port and seaboard cities.  

Take a look at the photograph below of Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas - smoking up a port in Alaska with bunker fuel.  Nasty.  Nasty.  Nasty.  

Holland America Line's CEO, Stein Kruse, complained that the new air law "essentially means all the current fuel that we burn cannot be burned within 200 miles." 

Exactly.

Bunker Fuel - Cruise Pollution

 March 22, 2010 Update:

TreeHugger.com has an interesting article - Cruise Liner Pollution Kills Up To 8,300 People a Year in US and Canada, says EPA:

". . . the EPA argues that adopting the pollution controls would clear the air of particulates in port cities--and would save 8,300 lives a year. Which would mean that unregulated pollution from cruise lines is currently killing 8,300 people a year in the US and Canada . . .

Of course, the cruise industry execs are crying foul--they complain that the pollution controls would force them to pay up to 40% more for low sulfur fuels, and that they would no longer be able to burn any of the fuels they currently use within 200 miles of land. To which I say, Good. 

To cruise ship executives: I am sorry that your fuel expenses will rise--perhaps you will have to increase the price of admission for your monolithic floating tributes to excess, in order to prevent some 8,300 people from dying every year for the crime of happening to live in port cities.

Okay, so that may have been a tad melodramatic--but it seems to me that there's a pretty strong case for limiting pollution from ships, and that the industry's case against doing so rests only on the complaint that it would be expensive. Thankfully for the 8,300 folks whose lives are likely to be saved by the measure, the proposal looks likely to be adopted by the IMO--leaving the world a slightly less polluted place."

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?

A headline in the NoroBlog intrigued me - "Cruise Ships Causing Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?" - indicating that norovirus is "often associated with cruise ship sickness."  The article also raises the question whether cruise ships can infect the local port communities. 

The cruise industry's PR people have been fighting the connection between norovirus and "cruise ship sickness" for many years.

Sick Cruise Passengers - Norovirus - Sick Cruise Ships Last week the cruise industry's trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), wrote a letter to the Daytona Beach News Journal complaining that a writer made a connection between the virus and cruise ships and concluded that this is an illness that happens "often" on cruise ships.

CLIA's letter to the editor stated: "the overwhelming majority of norovirus outbreaks take place at land-based locations, such as schools, day care centers, hospitals and nursing homes."  The one comment to the letter, from a passenger on the norovirus infected Queen Victoria cruise ships, dismissed the letter as "more cover-up from the cruise spokes people."

CLIA has made the "its-a-lot-worse-ashore" argument before.  But arguing that it has a better record than day care centers and nursing homes seems counter-productive to the cruise line's image.  Of course day care centers with a million kids who have not mastered the art of going to the toilet and washing their hands and then wipe their runny noses all over the toys are going to be a hotbed of viruses.  And anyone entering a nursing home filled with incontinent geriatrics can instantly smell feces entering the facility.

The Food Poison Journal (affiliated with the Noroblog) reports that "outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, and norovirus in particular, are not new to the cruise industry.  In fact, the phenomenon prompted the CDC to create and oversee a "vessel sanitation program (VSP)." 

Arguing against the label "cruise ship sickness" is a waste of time.  The real debate should be whether sick cruise ships pose a health hazard to the local port communities.

In the past six weeks, the United States considered blocking the arrival of the Queen Victoria because of a norovirus outbreak - U.S. to Block Arrival of Queen Victoria After Norovirus Outbreak?  - and a week earlier the U.K. considered impounding the Balmoral cruise ship because of a similar outbreak -  "Cursed Cruise Ship" Balmoral At Risk of Being Impounded As Hundreds More Suffer Vomiting Bug.

Norovirus - Sick Cruise Ships The South Carolina Post and Courier ran an interesting article "Norovirus Confirmed Aboard Mercury" which reported on the concern that the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship - with over 400 norovirus infected passengers - could infect people living in Charleston.  

The newspaper reports that Katie Zimmerman, a project manager with the Coastal Conservation League, received frantic calls and e-mails from residents concerned not only about infected passengers entering the city but also about trash from the ship entering local waters.

Cruise ships like the Mercury can dump completely untreated sewage 12 miles offshore.  Although the article concludes that waste from the Mercury poses no risk to marine life or people who eat local seafood, there is a risk of contaminated water infecting shellfish which filter-feed. 

In this day and age, it is barbaric to think that hundreds of CLIA cruise ships routinely dump human waste into the sea.  Cruise lines dump waste because they register their cruise ships outside of U.S. jurisdiction in places like Liberia and Panama which don't care what the cruise lines do. 

The thought of a cruise ship like the Mercury dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of norovirus infected feces just 12 miles offshore South Carolina is particularly disgusting. 

Even the worst run child care facilities and nursing homes don't do that.

 

Credits:      

Sick cruise passenger           Bill Mahler's Food Poison Blog

Cruise Cleaners              Telegraph.co.uk  "Cruises: Norovirus Questions & Answers

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

Newspapers in Alaska are reporting that cruise lines are trying to avoid Alaska's strict waste water laws. 

The Juneau Empire reports that the cruise industry is complaining to lawmakers in Alaska that the limits on ammonia are too strict.  The cruise industry's "Alaska Cruise Association" - comprised of Miami based cruise lines - is again posturing to reposition its cruise ships if they cannot make a deal which permits them to pollute. 

The cruise industry is known for its strong arm tactics of threatening financial harm to the port cities if they can't get their way around environmental regulations. The newspaper quotes a consultant for the "Alaska Cruise Association, Mike Tibbles, as saying: 

"If this stands, ship deployments could be altered and port times may be reduced," he said. "The result could very likely be fewer economic opportunities for our businesses."

Alaska passed strict wastewater regulations in 2006 for sewage, graywater and other treated water dumped into state waters.

The president of the "Responsible Cruising in Alaska" organization, Chip Thoma, believes that the cruise industry's history of polluting Alaskan waters proves the need to regulate cruise ship discharges: 

"The cruise ships engaged in a great deal of deception to hide their malfeasance." 

Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Bunker Fuel - Emissions

The carbon footprint of the cruise industry is incredible.  Cruise ships burn nasty bunker fuel and dump millions of gallons of sewage.  If left unregulated, the cruise industry will save money by avoiding implementing new technologies.  We have addressed cruise line pollution and the battle to protect Alaska's waters from the cruise industry's discharges of sewage in prior articles:

Cruise Industry Retaliates Against Green Water Scientist

Cruise Industry Dumps Green Water Scientist Overboard, Appoints Law Firm Employee to Waste Water Panel

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Polluting Cruise Industry Files Lawsuit to Avoid Alaskan Tax

The "Alaska" Cruise Association's Lawsuit Against Alaska - Pay Back By Tax-Avoiding Miami Cruise Lines

Carnival Announces Quarterly Profits of $1,100,000,000 - But Pushes Lawsuit Against Alaska Over $50 Tax

Cruise Industry Exaggerates Effect of $50 Alaska Tax and Hides Financial Information    

Cruise Air Emissions - Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship                      AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

A report entitled "Getting a Grip on Cruise Pollutionreleased today by the Friends of the Earth (FOE) organization concludes that the billions of dollars earned by the cruise industry Friends of the Earth - Cruise Ship Pollution each year comes at a significant cost to our nation’s air and water.

The report was
researched and authored by Ross Klein, a Professor and independent expert on cruise ship pollution.  Professor Klein takes a detailed look at the various ways in which the cruise industry has harmed - and continues to harm - the environments in which cruise ships travel.

“This report provides a vital resource to anyone concerned about the cruise industry’s environmental impacts. With today’s launch of the largest cruise ship ever built - Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas - the report shines a light on an industry that has long avoided comprehensive environmental regulation and pollution controls,” said Marcie Keever, FOE's Earth’s Clean Vessels Campaign Director. “Cruise ships continue to dump sewage into our waters and poison our Oasis of the Seas - Pollution - Emissionsair with engines that burn bottom-of-the barrel bunker fuel.”

"Getting a Grip on Cruise Ship Pollution" 
looks at all aspects of the cruise industry, from its pollution streams, to its history of environmental violations, to the modest number of environmental laws that govern the industry. The report also contains a wide-ranging set of policy recommendations, providing solutions for comprehensive environmental reform of the cruise industry.

To learn more, visit the Friends of Earth website.


Resources:

Catalog of cruise industry environmental violations, fines and other incidents: Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie

Overview of cruise ship pollution from Friends of the Earth website.

Source: Friends of the Earth news release. FOE is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, FOE has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

Credit:

Oasis of the Seas       Kenneth Karsten via shipspotting.com