Water: Vessel Water Discharge
September 8, 2000
An afternoon open house and evening public hearing were held in Centennial Hall in downtown Juneau. The open house had a steady stream of visitors, and opportunity for testimony directly to the record were available for the public if they were unavailable for the evening public hearing; no testimony was taken. Juneau Mayor Dennis Egan opened the evening hearing, which Craig Vogt of EPA chaired.
Panelists: Craig Vogt, USEPA, Ron Kreizenbeck, USEPA R10, Mike Conway, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), Brian Basel, Captain USCG, Ed Page, Captain USCG District 17
About 120 people attended the hearing. Craig Vogt made a brief presentation (in PDF format) (PDF, 143 KB, 19 pages, about PDF) on USEPA's regulations and programs that involve cruise ships, the reasons for USEPA's cruise ship assessment, and what he hoped to achieve during the hearings. Thirty-three people spoke, including two elected officials (and two candidates), 8 people who identified themselves as representatives of environmental organizations, 4 people who identified themselves as coming from the cruise ship or tourism industry representatives, and 11who described themselves as representatives of community organizations or long-time residents of the community. Many of the others who testified also appeared to be long-term residents of the local community from the context of their remarks.
The level of interest in this issue was highly apparent from the fact that the meeting went until after midnight, and many people stayed to listen to the end. The public testimony was sometimes impassioned but always orderly. Speakers who argued for stricter regulatory limitations and controls on cruise ship discharges outnumbered those who spoke in favor of other alternatives by about four to one. Several themes recurred throughout the testimony.
Several speakers who argued for stricter regulation of cruise ship discharges suggested that sewage from cruise ships be regulated similarly to land-based sewage treatment plants, needing NPDES permits. Other suggestions included zero-discharge from ships and closure of "donut holes." Speakers described signs of impacts from cruise ship discharges on Alaskan wildlife and waters as evidence that more stringent regulation is needed to protect the environment.
Alternatively, other speakers expressed the belief that there are currently adequate regulations on discharges, but the Coast Guard needs to ensure enforcement. In addition, speakers voiced concern that fishing vessels would also have to comply with any stricter regulations imposed upon the cruise industry. Other opinions expressed were that the cruise industry should not be singled out for regulation, and that the cruise industry will develop environmentally protective technology if left unregulated because it depends on the quality of the environment.
Photo from NOAA