Water: Vessel Water Discharge
September 12, 2000
The hearing was held at a hotel in downtown Miami. The hearing consisted of an afternoon and an evening session. Craig Vogt of EPA chaired the hearing.
Panelists: Craig Vogt, USEPA, Satish Kastury, Florida Department of Environmental Proctection (FDEP), Brian Basel, CAPT USCG, Beverly Bannister, USEPA R4
A total of about 100 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. Commander Bob Kirk of USCG made a brief presentation on the Coast Guard's inspection program. Satish Kasturi made a brief presentation on Florida Department of Environmental Protection's cruise ship hazardous waste program.
Twenty two people spoke, including 3 representatives from environmental organizations, 6 representatives from the cruise industry, 10 people who identified themselves as professionals associated in some way with the cruise industry, and three former or current government inspectors or criminal investigators with experience dealing with cruise ships. No one who spoke identified himself as speaking as a private citizen.
Discussion was lively but orderly and professional at both the afternoon and evening sessions. Speakers discussing cruise ship success stories in environmental stewardship outnumbered speakers suggesting that more regulation was needed by a ratio of about four to one. Two speakers described new or ongoing partnerships between the cruise industry, academia and government to further environmental research or education, including interships and construction of an environmental laboratory on a new cruise ship.
Several speakers described themselves as members of the environmental industry who deal professionally with the cruise industry, such as suppliers of environmentally-friendly products, recyclers, and oil and waste handlers under contract to receive wastes from cruise ships. They characterized the cruise ship industry, as viewed from their standpoint, as environmentally responsible and proactive.
Speakers from environmental advocacy organizations described their concerns about past and ongoing discharges and record-keeping practices on board cruise ships. Several of these speakers voiced their concern over the lack of public participation in public-private partnerships like the FDEP Memorandum of Understanding with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).
Several speakers described products or processes of which they were aware, which they said were or could be used by the cruise ship industry to improve environmental protection. A Commander from the Coast Guard described the Vessel Sanitation Program, which inspects cruise ships for cleanliness, hygiene and training programs.
A representative from the U.S. District Attorney's office described his experiences with investigating and prosecuting illegal discharges from cruise ships. He summed up his experiences by saying that while there is value in voluntary self-auditing and independent auditing programs such as those by the classification societies, they do not help if there is pervasive attempt to deceive the auditors.