WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cruise ships dumped more than a billion gallons of sewage in the ocean this year, much of it raw or poorly treated, according to federal data analyzed by Friends of the Earth, which continues the call for stronger rules to protect oceans, coasts, sea life and people.
Friends of the Earth’s 2014 Cruise Ship Report Card reveals that some of the 16 cruise lines graded are slowly getting greener; but more than 40 percent of the 167 ships still rely on 35-year-old waste treatment technology. Such antiquated treatment systems leave harmful levels of fecal matter, bacteria, heavy metals and other contaminants in the water. By law, wastewater dumped within three nautical miles of shore must be treated, but beyond that ships are allowed to dump raw sewage directly into the ocean. For this reason, the issue of accountability is paramount for the 2014 report card.
In a complete reversal from prior years of cooperation and transparency, all 16 major cruise lines refused — through their industry association, Cruise Lines International Association — to respond to Friends of the Earth’s requests for information on their pollution-reduction technologies. Therefore, the 2014 Cruise Ship Report card contains a new category: “Transparency” in which every cruise line received an “F” grade.