Cruise lines face new regulations


Cruise lines that sail through Pacific Northwest waters say they’ll have a hard time meeting new pollution-control standards that kick in next year.

The wastewater rules will be imposed on ships cruising Alaska’s coast. Some of those ships are based in Seattle. They were set by a citizens’ initiative passed by Alaska voters.

Cruise lines and tourism groups say no equipment exists that can meet the new requirements, for ammonia and dissolved metals such as copper.

Alaska Travel Industry Association President Ron Peck says the ships are being held to the strictest standard in the state.

Ron Peck: “There’s not a city in the state of Alaska that meets those requirement now. I just think we need to be fair and equitable for all. We should allow DEC, Department of Environmental Conservation, to determine what the correct regulator amounts should be regarding wastewater discharge.”

But a firm hired by the state of Alaska says it’s found some promising devices in use on shore. Max Schwenne works for Oasis Environmental.

Max Schwenne: “Yes, the technology exists but the bridge to putting that land-based technology on a vessel, there’s a lot of engineering and design issues and implementation issues that have to be resolved before it can happen.”

The firm says designing, installing and testing new equipment could take about two years. And it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per ship.

Cruise lines say they’re conducting some technology tests. But they’re also backing a bill dropping the new standards and turning regulation over to state environmental officials.