An industry group that represents about 95% of cruise ships visiting North American ports has adopted environmental standards that it says it's prepared to back up by expelling offending members.
The standards were announced last week by the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) two days after Alaska became the first U.S. state to pass its own antipollution regulations for cruise ships. Both sets of standards take effect July 1.
The ICCL policy bars discharging so-called black water (basically, treated sewage) or gray water (from galleys, laundries, showers and similar sources) within four nautical miles of shore; it adds that ships must follow local laws.
The ICCL's gray water policy is stricter than the new Alaska law, which bars discharges one mile from shore, said John Hansen, president of the North West Cruiseship Assn. in Vancouver, Canada. There are no federal or international laws addressing gray water per se, according to Hansen and the ICCL. Discharge of untreated sewage is barred within three miles of shore by federal law, but is allowed closer if it's treated to federal standards, the ICCL said.