Friends of the Earth lauds Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary for banning cruise ship wastewater discharges Groups calls on the Port of Seattle, Department of Ecology, and NWCCA to extend ban to all of Puget Sound

For Immediate Release
November 21, 2011
Contacts:
Fred Felleman, 206.595.3825, felleman@comcast.net
Marcie Keever, 415.544.0790 x 223, mkeever@foe.org

SEATTLE, Wash. — On December 1, Washington’s Olympic Coast National Marine
Sanctuary will enact regulations banning cruise ships from discharging sewage, graywater,
oily bilge and other harmful waste in waters bounded by the Sanctuary, a move that will
safeguard more than 2,700 square miles of extraordinary marine resources.
The Sanctuary represents one of North America’s most productive marine ecosystems and
provides habitat to a wide variety of marine species including toothed and baleen whales,
seals and sea lions, sea otters, and numerous fish and sea bird species. These treaty
protected resources also support four federally recognized tribal governments—Makah,
Quileute, Hoh and Quinault.

Friends of the Earth, an environmental group that led the charge to successfully ban cruise
ship waste discharges in all west coast sanctuaries, lauded the decision as a victory for
clean water and called upon the Port of Seattle, the Washington State Department of
Ecology and the Northwest & Canada Cruise Association (NWCCA) to extend the same
protections to all of Puget Sound.
“We applaud the Sanctuary for taking this step to protect the open waters of our nationally
recognized coast,” said Fred Felleman, Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth. “Now
is the time to ban cruise ship pollution in Washington State’s endangered inshore marine
waters in order to protect the health of the public and our region’s diverse and vulnerable
marine ecosystems.”

However, the only thing protecting Puget Sound is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
between the Department of Ecology, the NWCCA and the Port of Seattle, originally signed
on April 20, 2004, and which has been amended five times. Because there is no law
prohibiting cruise ship wastewater discharges outside of the marine sanctuary, cruise lines
using the Port of Seattle can simply seek permission to discharge at the beginning of each
new cruise season.

Friends of the Earth, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, and People for Puget Sound are formally
petitioning (attached) these entities to amend the MOU to include a cruise ship wastewater
discharge ban in Puget Sound and the Straits. Due to a change in policy in 2010, this is the
last year proposed MOU amendments will be subject to an annual review. Following this
year, there will be no public opportunity to update the MOU provisions until 2015.
Cruise ship pollution is a significant threat to water resources. While treatment is required to
discharge wastewater, the U.S. EPA has found that older sewage treatment systems
discharge wastewater in excess of federal water quality standards.

Each large cruise ship calling at the Port of Seattle is capable of generating more than one
million gallons of wastewater in a single week. The port’s 2011 cruise season was more
robust than expected, with 196 cruise ships bringing 885,949 passengers through the
waters of the sound between late April and early October. While none of the 14 cruise ships
that call the Port of Seattle home sought permission to discharge in Puget Sound waters this
past season, there are no guaranteed protections without a permanent ban.
The Department of Ecology states in their public notice, “The MOU agreement supports the
broader Puget Sound Initiative – a comprehensive effort by local, tribal, state and federal
governments, business, agricultural and environmental interests, scientists, and the public
to restore and protect the Sound, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca.” The proposed MOU
amendment specifically supports the Action Agenda’s item C8.1 “Establish no discharge
zones for commercial and recreational vessels in all or parts of Puget Sound that have
nutrient and/or pathogen problems.”

“We all must do our part, including cruise ship companies, if we are to succeed in achieving
Puget Sound recovery by 2020,” said Felleman. “Cruise ships calling on Seattle have
demonstrated that they can refrain from discharging wastewater while in Puget Sound. By
codifying this conservation commitment through the MOU the NWCCA can be a true partner
in the region’s economic and ecological restoration,” concluded Felleman.
###

~ by fredfelleman on November 21, 2011.

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