Seventy cruise ships docked in Seward from May 17 to September 26 this year. The cruise ships arrived early and left in the evening, spewing toxic emissions including sulfur and nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and fine particulates while docked in town at the cruise ship dock.
One of the last cruise ships was the Norwegian Jewel of the Norwegian Cruise Line which visited nine times. I watched the thick plume of stinky blue emissions drift north over town as it sat in port in beautiful Resurrection Bay, surrounded by our spectacular scenery. Last year, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation determined that this cruise ship violated Alaska’s air quality standards.
In early September, ADEC issued air quality violations to eight cruise ships and water quality violations to nine cruise ships, including Seward cruise ships Westerdam, Norwegian Jewel, and Radiance of the Seas (which was cited twice). Wastewater discharge violations for unauthorized, untreated graywater or treated mixed graywater and sewage, were also issued to the Noordam and Seabourn Sojourn, two other cruise ships that visit Seward.
Other ports, such as Juneau have monitors that grade the emissions to determine opacity. Ships are allowed to exceed 20% opacity for three minutes an hour while at the dock. When casting off, anchoring, and docking, ship exhausts are only allowed to exceed 40% opacity for nine minutes out of an hour.
Does Seward monitor ship exhaust and wastewater discharge? We should.
I wonder why these cruise ships are not required to hook up to shore power like the Alaska Railroad locomotives that no long idle their diesel engines all day at the train depot. It would help our electric utility and help lower area-wide electric bills while protecting the clean air and water that apparently attract cruise ship visitors to Seward and Alaska.
At this evening’s council meeting, Mayor David Squires requested that citizens contact him and other council members about a recent proposal to build a new cruise ship dock along the Waterfront to handle more and much larger cruise ships.