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Water: Vessel Water Discharge

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles sky lineSeptember 6, 2000

Download the transcript in PDF format. (PDF, 155 KB, 64 pages, about PDF)


The hearing was held in the multipurpose room of the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro, CA. The hearing consisted of an afternoon and an evening session. Craig Vogt, Deputy Director of the Oceans and Coastal Protection Division of USEPA's Office of Water (OW) chaired the hearing.

Panelists: Craig Vogt, USEPA, Brian Basel, Captain USCG, Allan Ota, USEPA R9

A total of about 40 people attended the afternoon and evening sessions of the hearing. Craig Vogt made a brief presentation (in PDF foramt) (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. He then invited public comment.

Eight members of the public spoke, including two people representing organizations which had signed the petition, two representatives from the cruise ship industry, and a representative of California Congressman Nakano's office. Two people spoke of cruise ship practices of legal and illegal discharges and the environmental effects they cause, and called for strengthened regulatory control over cruise ship discharges, including:

  • rethinking the NPDES exemption
  • regulating sewage beyond 3 miles
  • requiring monitoring and reporting
  • spending more time and money on monitoring and enforcement

Two people spoke of cruise ships' current voluntary environmental protection activities and partnership initiatives (with generally binding requirements) with states, USCG, and ship classification societies. They said these activities supported cruise industry environmental principles, including:

  • full compliance with all regulations
  • close communications with regulators
  • investment in new environmental technologies
  • education of staff, crew, guests, and host communities

One person spoke of his experience with environmental management systems based on International Standards Organization (ISO) 14000, and described them as very successful. He said any such program needed elements of public input, audits, and management approval. One person offered his expertise and information on modeling of dispersion plumes of chemicals and flotsam.

Captain Brian Basel (USCG) made some brief comments about the recent GAO report on Cruise Ships, which he characterized as Coast Guard's external audit on this subject. He said that USCG had taken action on the GAO recommendations to look more closely into graywater and black water, and increase the number of overflights. He noted that the GAO report did not discuss the fact that more effective domestic enforcement was making referral of alleged violations to flag states for enforcement less necessary.

The representative of State Congressman George Nagano spoke briefly about California Assembly Bill 2746, which had passed the legislature and was awaiting signature by the Governor. The bill creates an Environmental Task Force of state agencies to review cruise ship discharges and their effects on the environment, and make recommendations to California EPA and USCG.

Several speakers voiced concern over preliminary reports of results of a sampling initiative ongoing in Alaska, which showed unexpectedly high fecal coliform counts in graywater and blackwater. Some speakers pointed to these results as indicative of the need for tighter control on discharges; others said that these results showed the need for further study.

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