Ocean needs protection
from cruise-ship discharge


Hawaii Rep. Ed Case is co-sponsoring a measure to set standards for wastewater from passenger ships.

CONSIDERING the state's consistent failure to beef up Hawaii's puny rules on waste discharges from cruise ships, bills introduced recently in Congress may be the better way to go. With the number of ships expected to increase in the islands in the next few years, safeguarding the surrounding seas with regulations and enforcement is necessary.

Recognizing Hawaii's considerable stake in a clean ocean environment, U.S. Rep. Ed Case has signed on to co-sponsor the House proposal that would outlaw a ship's dumping of sewage, chemicals, so-called graywater -- water used for baths, laundry and food preparation -- and bilgewater that contains oil, transmission fluids and other petroleum-based products into U.S. territorial waters. The measure, similar to one introduced in the Senate, also would set standards for treated discharges, authorize the Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the standards and hold cruise line companies accountable.

The United States has seen the cruise industry boom to about 6.5 million port calls in 2002, an increase of more than 10 percent in a one-year period. Hawaii expects to add three more ships to the roster in the next few years.

A single cruise ship with 3,000 passengers can generate about 270,000 gallons of graywater and about 30,000 gallons of sewage every day, yet the industry is exempt from the Clean Water Act. At present, cruise ships are among the largest sources of unregulated ocean pollution, a problem that is easily corrected through onboard waste treatment.

As a case in point, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, one of the largest cruise companies in the world, last week committed to installing advance treatment systems on all of its ships in the next two years. The company, which had been hit with $27 million in criminal fines for repeatedly polluting the ocean, apparently saw the error of its ways, an indication that others in the industry may soon acknowledge their responsibilities.

Calls for stronger protection of Hawaii's coastal waters have fallen on deaf ears at the state Legislature. The Lingle administration also can be faulted, choosing instead to tweak the feeble memorandum of understanding the state reached with the industry, which has no weight of law, lacks sufficient enforcement and is merely voluntary. Even under such weak controls, ships have violated the memo more than 12 times.

Alaska and California in recent years adopted stringent regulations for discharges, but Hawaii and coastal areas on the continent remain unprotected. A recent report by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy advises that comprehensive, nationwide management be developed. Congress should follow through.



Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

David Black, Dan Case, Larry Johnson,
Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke, Colbert
Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe,
Frank Teskey, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor, 529-4791;
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor, 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor, 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4748;

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
Oahu Publications at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.
Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii. Postmaster: Send address changes to
Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

E-mail to Editorial Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --