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At the end of August, the California coast became the largest No Discharge Zone in the U.S., validating the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to protect all California coastal waters. The rule applies to all cruise ships and to large ocean-going vessels with adequate sewage holding capacities; however, CLIA noted that cruise ships have not been discharging in California waters since before 2005, when California passed a law protecting the coast.
CLIA stated, “The cruise industry shares EPA’s and the State Water Resources Control Board’s commitment to protect California ’s coastal waters. While international regulations permit the discharge of untreated blackwater (sewage) 12 miles from shore, as a policy our member cruise lines first treat blackwater with approved technologies prior to discharge anywhere in the world.”Michael Crye, CLIA executive vice president and 34-year Coast Guard veteran, commented, “The NDZ has no impact on us.”
Crye said California knew there was a question regarding the enforceability of their law, so they asked for a No Discharge Zone designation, which includes federal government enforcement.
Though it is intended to protect California’s waters and offshore islands, the rule does not cover discharges from land-based sources such as municipal wastewater treatment facilities. Opponents of the measure had pointed out that, in areas like the Florida Keys, the EPA’s Water Quality Protection Report indicated that landside sources were responsible for 98.5-99 percent of pollutants.
Crye noted, “There may be cargo ships that have continued to discharge in California waters, but discharge has little impact on water quality because the discharges are small, so in effect the NDZ will have little to no impact on California water quality.” Meanwhile, Charles (Bud) Darr, formerly of the U.S. Coast Guard, has just been named director of environmental and health programs for CLIA. He will be responsible for all aspects of the cruise industry’s environmental and health matters, chairing CLIA’s environmental and medical Committees and serving as industry liaison to various international organizations.Prior to joining CLIA, Darr served as deputy chief of the Coast Guard Office of Maritime and International Law, where his responsibilities included international law development and implementation, vessel inspections, environmental crimes, environmental response, casualty investigations, mariner welfare, drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, fisheries enforcement, and port/vessel security matters.
Darr served as a marine inspector in New York and throughout Africa, Europe, and Southwest Asia. He is a frequent international speaker on a wide range of maritime safety and environmental protection issues, and was selected as the Federal Bar Association’s 2009 Transportation Security Lawyer of the Year.