Shape Up or Ship Out
A toxic pesticide that the U.S. banned in the 1980s, heptachlor, has been found in the wastewater of three cruise ships traveling in Alaska waters. Test results obtained from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation also indicated illegal levels of lead, copper, zinc, and silver in the wastewater that ships dump at sea, called gray water. “The industry has repeatedly told us that their gray water is nothing more than soap suds. These results show it’s an industrial effluent that needs to be regulated,” said activist Gershon Cohen. Although the average cruise ship dumps about 200,000 gallons of wastewater each day, there are no laws that require testing or monitoring of the wastewater. Enviros, community activists, and Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles (D) are calling for stricter regulation of the cruise industry. Activists in San Francisco are worried about plans to build a new cruise ship terminal in the city, which would likely increase the number of ships coming through and emitting both wastewater and air pollutants.