New Restrictions On Cruise Ship Waste Discharge For The Port Of Seattle

Apr 25, 2012

As the weather warms up, cruise ships will begin arriving at the Port of Seattle. More than 200 ships are scheduled to visit the port this year, bringing millions of dollars in tourist revenue. In the past those ships have also brought wastewater into Puget Sound. But this year, the regulations are a little bit stricter. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Starting May 1st cruise ships that visit The Port of Seattle won’t be allowed to release treated sewage and graywater while they’re docked.

But a coalition of environmental groups is pushing for stronger restrictions. The coalition wants a ban on releasing graywater and treated sewage in Puget Sound altogether.

Fred Felleman is with Friends of the Earth, one of the groups that called for the ban. He says the Port of Seattle has more work to do.

Felleman: “The fact that they’re willing to exercise the little requirements that they have through the tariff agreement is a good thing but the advancement of this cause going forward, this is a baby step.”

Right now cruise ships are allowed to dump treated wastewater while they’re in Puget Sound if they get approval from the Washington Department of Ecology.

Bill Bryant is one of the Seattle Port Commissioners. He says an overall ban is unnecessary because only two ships have asked to discharge wastewater in the past two years.

Bryant: “Prohibiting discharge that for the most part is not occurring anyway is hardly a good days work.”

The Port of Seattle released a statement saying that it doesn’t have the power to enact an outright ban in state waters. So now state officials are looking into it.

The Department of Ecology and several other agencies are studying the feasibility of a “No Discharge Zone” in Puget Sound. The results of that study are expected in 2013.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network