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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Open Letter: Stop Cruise Ship Pollution Bill HB 80
By Steve Shrum


February 18, 2013
Monday PM

TO: Governor Sean Parnell
Third Floor, Alaska State Capitol Building
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Dear Governor Sean Parnell:

For over two decades I have observed cruise ship wastewater discharges, residues and effects in the Ketchikan area by boat and airplane and have concluded that NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO LOOSEN REGULATIONS ON THE CRUISESHIP WASTE WATER DISCHARGE PERMITS.

I am lifelong Alaskan from Ketchikan. I fish, run a fish packer, and fly my Piper aircraft as a private pilot and for the local Search and Rescue squad. My two sons and I have watched the development of the cruise industry in the southern southeast area and are most concerned about what we see out in the water behind these cruise ships: long trails of fragmented toilet paper, brown discolored streaks extending for miles, soapy froth in Wards cove, and an increased frequency of red tide algae blooms.

Frankly, the chemicals released in the effluent that we don’t see are probably the worst impact.

I have attached photographs from just a few observations. I believe that our fish are being stressed by frequency and staggering amount of wastewater discharged by cruise ships. Degrading the waters that our herring and salmon are swimming in as juveniles migrating out or adults returning to spawn probably has a role in the declines in abundance and quality we are witnessing.

As a certified aircraft mechanic, I know that some technological challenges take time to meet. But with the growth of the cruise fleet here, I think it is time to maintain a watchful eye and pressure for ships to clean their wastewater to a very high standard.

I request that you withdraw HB 80 from further consideration and encourage the cruise industry to adopt a higher standard for wastewater treatment if they are to discharge in Alaskan state waters.


Steve Shrum
Ketchikan, AK

cc. Alaska State Legislature

Attached PDF: Photos & maps of cruise ship wastewater, red tide blooms and stressed salmon

Received February 18, 2013 - Published February 18, 2013



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