Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/314313
48 Proceedings Summer 2014 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Closing the Loophole In 2000, U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski introduced legislation, known today as the "Murkowski Law," that eliminated this legal loophole and made it illegal for large cruise ships to discharge without meeting stringent regulations. On December 21, 2000, the U.S. Congress voted these waste- water regulations into law and established the governing rules for discharges of sewage and gray water within Alas- kan waters. This law mandated that vessel operators meet sampling and testing schedules and established reporting and record keeping requirements for all applicable cruise ships. 1 In addition to these federal regulations, there are also state regulations that apply to vessels carrying less than 500 passengers. It is important to understand that these wastewater regula- tions do not eliminate the legal discharge of "treated" sew- age or gray water within the inside waters of Alaska; rather they establish a specifc set of requirements to allow vessels to legally discharge. 2 The Options One option available to the cruise industry is for ships to transit beyond the baseline at least three nautical miles into the Gulf of Alaska to conduct any discharge operations. This alternative is not conducive to most cruise ship opera- tions, as this would force them off-course and disrupt their schedules. There is another option to the above rule that requires the cruise ship operator to make notifcation to the captain of the port, southeast Alaska, not less than 90 days before initial entry into Alaskan waters. The company must pro- vide proof that the vessel's treated wastewater meets the effuent standards found in 40 CFR 133.102. 3 The last wastewater discharge option available to large cruise ships allows them to continuously discharge while operating on the inside waters of Alaska. This program grants permission to those ships that meet the stringent 40 CFR 133.102 requirements and allows them to conduct discharge operations throughout the operating season with- out having to request approval or complete sampling prior to each discharge. The captain of the port provides a letter to the companies that meet these requirements — highlight- ing compliance with the reporting, sampling, record keep- ing, and discharge effuent requirements as outlined in the regulations. Additionally, the vessel must maintain a Coast Guard- approved quality assurance/quality control plan that out- lines vessel-specifc sampling techniques, required onboard equipment, wastewater sample preservation methods, labo- ratory chain of custody, and such. The vessel-specifc sam- pling plan must note: • passenger/crew capacity; • vessel's daily water use; • holding tank capacities and discharge port schematics; • a table documenting type of sample, test parameters, and information specifc to each sampling event. Finally, each vessel that operates under this program must submit to unannounced random wastewater sampling two times per month. 4 High turbidity could be an "alarm sign" that the treatment process is not functioning well, so a turbid meter can be a valuable process indicator. The back pulse system provides suction, moving the water through the membrane. Summer2014_22.indd 48 5/13/14 9:46 AM