Please, find something else to worry about

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an average cruise ship generates more than seven million gallons of sewage a year. For the global cruise ship fleet, that adds up to well over a billion gallons a year.

Yet by law ships can still dump raw sewage if they’re more than three nautical miles from shore. And almost 40 percent of cruise ships we surveyed still rely on 35-year-old waste treatment technology, leaving sewage with high levels of fecal matter, bacteria, heavy metals and other contaminants harmful to aquatic life and people.

Since some cruise lines won’t install the most advanced sewage treatment technology available, it is time for the E.P.A. to crack down and stop allowing the cruise industry to use our oceans as a toilet.


Oceans & Vessels Program Director

Friends of the Earth

Berkeley, Calif.

Billion gallons!


352,670,000,000,000,000,000 gallons in the oceans

Or, roughly and around and about you understand, 352,670,000,000 times more than the volume of that sewage if they just dump it all straight overboard. Some of which will be flushing water and so on. 0.00000000028% or something.

Sure, we don’t want it inshore or anything but out at sea? And are we certain that this is less than the amount of whale shit out there anyway?

Uranium in seawater is some 3 parts per billion. This is an order of magnitude smaller than that….

26 thoughts on “Please, find something else to worry about”

  1. Shite will be consumed by plankton etc as by bacteria on land. Therefore they are providing nutriment at the very foundation of the chain of life.

    A load of eco-freak discharge…

  2. That’s pretty close to homeopathic dilution levels. Surely a smart person could think of an ailment that raw sewage causes and use sea water to cure it. 😉

  3. In shite?

    The problem is not heavy metals but the heavy mentals who make up the Greenfreak ranks.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    leaving sewage with high levels of fecal matter, bacteria, heavy metals and other contaminants

    What is normally known as organic fertilizer. What else do these people think marine life feeds on?

    As for the heavy metals, they are likely to be present in trace amounts in human waste. Sure, some countries regulate pig sh!t because of heavy metal problems – mainly caused by feeding them a lot of medicines. But in humans? Not likely to be a big problem.

    If you want something to worry about look at the Italian banks. Someone has said that Santander has failed their stress tests. Which is predictable I suppose. But they are also saying Deutsche Bank has too. That is worth worrying about.

  5. Paul et al,

    There is a range of scholarly reporting on concentration of heavy metals in faeces, quite a lot of it in snails and nematodes, although a very quick search turned up this:

    Among the heavy metals in sewage sludge, the most hazardous ones to humans are cadmium, mercury, and lead, while copper, zinc, chromium, and nickel in high concentrations are particularly poisonous to plants. (Levinen 1991)

    I’m afraid I haven’t immediate access to the Levinen paper: Levinen, R. “New Finnish guidelines for the use of sewage sludge.” Kemia-kemi (Finland) (1991).

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    Round here farmers spread that sort of stuff on fields and the roads, as I found out to my cost when I was out cycling not long after we moved here.

  7. where is Bob Newhart when you need him?

    I can just hear the dulcet tones;

    “Hey,er, Marcie, y’know, you’ve heard of fish, right, Marcie?
    Well, Marcie, y’know what bears do in the woods, right? Well, fish, uh, they do it in the sea, Marcie.”

  8. She’s concerned about cruise ships mainly because people have fun on them. If they were ferrying people to harsh labour camps, she’d have no issue with it.

  9. re: Tim Newman

    You won’t hear any of these complaint for ships transporting the morally superior economical refugee landing ashore in EU/UK. Where do you think their refuse goes? Into the blackhole?

  10. All the ships I sailed on in the last twenty years of my career at sea ALL had anaerobic sewage treatment plants. Cruise ships with their high volume of passenger crap would need them whilst operating inside the three miles limit. They would not have the capacity to store it.

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    If this cunt is worried about shit in seawater then perhaps he shouldn’t drink it.

  12. Technically a cruse ship doesn’t generate any sewage. The people who generate it, generate it regardless of being on a cruse ship or not being on a cruse ship.

    I spent some time designing sewage systems for cruse ships, they are mostly significantly more sophisticated that those municipal plants that have been around for more than a decade or so. I’ve never heard of one that dumped raw sewage just because it was outside a 3 mile limit, the plants don’t like being turned on or off frequently.

  13. DM

    If you were designing sewage systems for cruise ships, does that make you a shit-engineer ?

  14. No mate, I was a shit engineer before I started doing that.

    I’m now a project manager, being a shit engineer is a perfect qualification for that.

  15. I’m now a project manager, being a shit engineer is a perfect qualification for that.

    Indeed. One of the most infuriating things about being in an engineering team is knowing the discipline of the PM because that’s the area he wasn’t to design himself. A shit engineer who becomes PM avoids this temptation.

  16. A shit engineer who becomes PM avoids this temptation

    But presumably only if he recognises he was shit at engineering, rather than just having been promoted to a position where he can do less damage.

  17. A much bigger problem than the sewage (which is covered off by MARPOL) is ballast water.

    Water’s taken on as ballast in (say) India, and then discharged at the end of the ballast voyage (say) Australia, spitting out all kinds of invasive creatures and stuff, with predictable results for the local maritime environment.

    That’s a genuine problem (and one that costs about USD$500k a vessel to fix). Sewage, less so- MARPOL has been broadly successful in controlling blackwater risks.

    Also: use of biocides in hull coating is another real problem.

  18. One thought:

    You know that old saw about everyone is currently breathing in at least one molecule that Julius Caesar (or whomever) once breathed in.

    Well … every time you’re in the ocean …

  19. Second thought:

    One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen is when you fly into Montego Bay. The flight path from the west comes in low over where the cruise ships dock (and presumably trail waste). The water is loaded with fish, particularly sharks. I saw more hammerheads in one glance there than in the whole rest of my life.

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