Cruising Through the Polluted Water
Solid and Chemical Pollution
The ship disposes human waste into the ocean using a sewage treatment plant, however, a larger cruise ships can carry up over 7000 people and an estimated 210,000 gallons of sewage are dumped every single week. The sewage is rich in bacteria and algae which can alter the marine eco-system. Moreover, cruise ship leak toxic chemical from batteries, dry cleaning and other chemicals from cleaning methods.
Ballast Water Pollution
Cruise ships carry a large amount of ballast water, around 1000 metric tons, to stabilize the ship while traveling and the ship is filled from its starting region and emptied when it reaches its destination. The problem is that the water contains millions of microbes, micro-organisms, and other foreign marine species and these could potentially become invasive species in the new area if they proliferate at a high rate and are predatory to native species.
Grey water is waste from the ship’s plumbing, laundry and shower system and an estimated one million gallons of grey water dumped each week. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says this water can contain bacteria, pathogens, oil and grease, detergent and soap residue, metals, solids and nutrients which can all have effects on marine life. Recently, a cruise ship, Carnival Elation, leaked 5900 gallons of untreated grey water into the ocean at a port in Florida. They released a statement that the water spilled out of the ship accidentally due to a value problem but this cruise company has a history of illegal dumping. In 2016, they were fined 40 million dollars because the engineers made a special device called “magic pipe” that ignores the ship’s treatment system and dumps untreated oil waste right into the ocean. They were also fined 20 million dollars for dumping plastic and food waste into ocean. Compared to the 2.8 billion dollars the Carnival Corporation made in 2016, these fines are very small and are not sufficient to prevent future cases of illegal dumping.
Currently, the cruise ship industry is growing with the development of cheat devices that allows them to redirect sulfur emission that pollute the air and dump them in the ocean instead. The International Maritime Organization enforced a new emission standard which requires all ships to switch to low-sulfur fuel that is better for the environment. However, the low-sulfur fuel is costly and installing these devices are much cheaper and thus, allows cruise ships to go around new rules. Around half of cruise lines (3765 ships) are using these devices and more are estimated to install it to avoid the new laws.
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