Regulators Watch for Illegal Pollution as Cruise Traffic Surges in Alaska
Alaska’s cruise ship pollution monitors say they are prepared to keep Alaskan waters clean as some of the world’s biggest cruise ships are expected to land in Juneau this year carrying a record number of passengers.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s cruise ship monitoring program will watch for both air and water pollution. Ed White, one of the monitors, said the team is fully staffed and ready to deal with the increase in cruise traffic, The Juneau Empire reported. The state is expecting more than 1 million cruise ship passengers to arrive in Juneau this summer.
Dozens of cruise ships with berths for at least 250 overnight passengers have filed plans to make more than 500 voyages into Alaska waters. Of the 34 ships, 19 are permitted to discharge treated wastewater in state waters, while others, including the 4,000-passenger Explorer of the Seas, are not. Last year, the state did not issue any violation notices to cruise ship companies for air pollution. That was an improvement from 2014, when cruise ships violated state rules 31 times.
Guy Archibald of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council said the state should do more to ensure Alaska’s waters are not negatively impacted by cruise ship season. He suggested the environmental conservation department conduct more assessments of southeast Alaska waters both before the summer and during cruise ship season to determine how much of an impact the large cruise ships have on the water.