For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Erin Jensen

Cruise Ships Allowed to Dump Pollution a Mile from U.S. Shores

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency today published a permit that
will allow cruise ships to dump unlimited quantities of untreated
graywater-a harmful pollutant-into the ocean just a mile from U.S.

"The Bush EPA is ignoring its own scientific findings by
issuing this permit, which will allow harmful pollution near U.S.
shores," said Marcie Keever, Clean Vessels Campaign Director at Friends
of the Earth. "The Environmental Protection Agency knows that pollution
from cruise ships and other vessels is out of control and getting
worse. This permit will not protect the health of our oceans or the
people who use them."

The permit issued today was a final Clean Water Act General Permit for
vessel pollution discharges. The permit allows ships to dump untreated
graywater one nautical mile from U.S. shores if they are travelling at
speeds above six knots. The permit also requires ships to monitor their
graywater discharges only once every three months, leaving them free to
ignore malfunctioning systems the other 361 days of the year.

Cruise ship graywater contains contaminants such as oil and grease,
metals, pesticides, viruses, fecal coliform bacteria from human sewage,
medical and dental waste, detergents, and cleaners. A large cruise ship
on a one-week voyage can generate one million gallons-which would fill
33 large swimming pools-of graywater.

The EPA finds in an assessment report to be finalized this month that
untreated graywater from cruise ships is above safe levels. Despite
this finding, the permit issued today continues to allow cruise ships
to discharge such graywater. Significantly, the EPA has also found that
it would cost cruise ships only $7.09 per passenger to treat graywater
using the best water treatment technology, and yet the permit fails to
require treatment of polluted discharges beyond one nautical mile.

The EPA developed the permit in response to litigation from
environmental groups. Their lawsuit overturned an erroneous EPA
regulation that for the past 35 years exempted all vessels from the
permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act.

The EPA permit is available online at


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