Port of Seattle Improves Cruise Ship Air and Water Pollution Protections

Port of Seattle Improves Cruise Ship Air and Water Pollution Protections


Teri Shore, Friends of the Earth: 707.583.4428
University of Washington Environmental Law Clinic:
Director Michael J. Robinson-Dorn 206.616.7729
Student Advocate Nathan Phillips 206.851.5084

Seattle — Port of Seattle Commissioners improved air and water quality protections on a $120 million cruise and container terminal project approved at today’s port meeting. The new measures responded to environmental concerns spelled by out by Friends of the Earth’s Bluewater Network about the Terminal 30/Pier 91 expansion.

The port will require cruise ships visiting five or more times per season to plug into shoreside electricity or burn only cleaner low-sulfur bunker fuel (1.5 percent sulfur) when in port to reduce air pollution.

In addition, commissioners approved an environmental plan introduced by President John Creighton calling for protections beyond those described in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Those include:

  • a sewage sludge dumping ban in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary;
  • a directive to review compliance with the cruise industry’s voluntary water pollution agreement with the state environmental agency in a public commission meeting each season, and respond if needed;
  • a directive to mandate provisions of the voluntary water pollution agreement in any long-term leasing agreements with the cruise industry at Pier 91;
  • develop a port-wide air emission reduction program that includes ship pollution by the end of the year; and
  • participate in the governor’s initiatives to clean up Puget Sound.

“Clearly there is a sea change in environmental leadership at the Port of Seattle that is cause for us to celebrate rather than litigate,” said Bluewater Network’s Northwest consultant Fred Felleman.

“The port commissioners improved the air pollution protections and established better oversight of wastewater discharges,” said Teri Shore, Bluewater Network’s Clean Vessel Campaign Director. “We look forward to working with them to see the plans implemented.”

“We believe that the Port and the Commissioners have made a major step forward in setting a standard on how new projects are reviewed and mitigated,” said Nathan Phillips of the Steve and Kathy Berman Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Washington.

Cruise ship traffic at the Port of Seattle has escalated from 6 calls in 1999 to 196 in 2006 without any new laws to protect Puget Sound from the millions of gallons of sewage, graywater, and oily bilge water that the vessels generate and dump overboard every year. They also generate air pollution by burning tons of bunker fuel every day. These new measures will help turn the tide on cruise ship pollution.

Bluewater Network works to stop environmental damage from vehicles and vessels, and to protect human health andthe planet by reducing dependence on fossil fuels; and is a division of Friends of the Earth – the U. S. voice of the world’s largest network of environmental groups with one million supporters in 70 countries across five continents.

The Kathy and Steve Berman Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law prepares students to become knowledgeable legal advocates for the Pacific Northwest’s unique environmental concerns.