U.S. Water News Online
PORTLAND, Maine -- Maine's Department of Environmental
Protection is launching a new permit system that requires discharges
by cruise ships to be as clean as wastewater treated on shore.
Cruise ships will be prohibited from dumping wastewater within
three miles of the shore unless they can meet the same water quality
standards as municipal treatment plants.
"We have pretty sweeping authority," said Pam Parker, co-leader of
the DEP's cruise ship program. "This is the first waste discharge
license for cruise ships in the United States, if not the world."
The rules apply to passenger ships that have at least 500 beds.
From the point of view of the cruise ship industry, Maine's
initiative will have little impact, said Christine Fischer,
spokeswoman for the International Council of Cruise Lines.
Fischer said council members, who include more than 90 percent of
the cruise market in North America, have already agreed not to
discharge wastewater within four miles of the nation's coastline.
"The cruise ships are already doing this on their own," she said.
But Joe Payne of Friends of Casco Bay said the rules are
significant because the state will no longer depend on voluntary
guidelines to protect its waters.
"Now Maine is in control," he said. "We are in the driver's seat,
and we have standards."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to designate
Casco Bay as a no-discharge zone this winter, putting the bay
off-limits for any sewage discharges from tankers, freighters and
cruise ships, as well as any pleasure boats equipped with on-board
Cruise ships brought a record number 45,225 passengers to the port
of Portland in 2005. But as the passenger count is going up, the
number of visiting cruise ships is going down.
Twenty-nine ships stopped in Portland this year, down 45 percent
from the peak year of 2001, according to Jeff Monroe, the city's
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