DCBureau.org Exposes Cruise Ship Industry Pollution in DIRTY WATER

January 19, 2010 10:18 AM Eastern Daylight Time

DCBureau.org Exposes Cruise Ship Industry Pollution in DIRTY WATER

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–DCBureau.org’s investigation into the hugely profitable cruise line industry reveals how lobbyists and Washington politicians help the industry avoid regulation that would stop its ships from polluting some of the most pristine and environmentally-sensitive places on earth.

DIRTY WATER exposes how even the newest cruise ships lack state-of-the-art environmental mitigation systems. The two-part series exposes a cruise industry dependent on lax federal oversight and more interested in putting profits into PR and lobbying and campaign contributions instead of installing new technologies that could mitigate some of its negative environmental impact.

DCBureau reporter David Rosenfeld reveals that the cruise industry touts untouched ocean scenery while beneath the surface cruise ships leave a wake of toxic sewage and other harmful pollutants that threaten marine life and human health. The cost-effective and preferred method of discharging sewage into the ocean requires a high-grade retrofit that costs $10 million. Yet the largest cruise companies choose not to spend the money to equip dozens of ships with the latest technology even as they make huge profits. Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, in the down 2009 economy made $1.3 billion in one quarter alone.

Today’s cruise ships carry on average between 3,000 and 7,000 people including the crew. A moderately sized ship on a week’s voyage can generate more than 200,000 gallons of human sewage – enough to fill 10 backyard swimming pools – a million gallons of gray water, 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water, more than 100 gallons of hazardous waste, and eight tons of solid waste, including ground up leftover food waste. And almost all of it gets discharged into the environment either straight into the ocean or incinerated onboard and the ashes thrown overboard with only a small amount hauled on shore. Carnival Cruise Lines – the company’s flagship subsidiary – rolled out eight ships in the past three years without the latest in advanced wastewater treatment technology.

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency confirm that federal and international laws for treating sewage onboard vessels are outdated and still threaten marine life and coral reefs even when ships abide by legally permissible methods. But the federal government has loosened its grip on the cruise line industry since big settlements in the 1990s.

DCBureau.org is a non-profit project staffed by award-winning reporters whose mission is to investigate news stories about significant issues and bring them to the attention of national and international audiences All articles published by DCBureau.org can be reprinted for free with attribution by any outlet.


Joseph Trento, 202-466-4310 or (mobile) 202-255-2441

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Composite figure: Byron Moore
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