Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

04/06/2009 03:30 PM RESOURCES


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 134 CRUISE SHIP WASTEWATER DISCHARGE PERMITS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ SB 177 NO REPEAL OF SPORT FISH GUIDE LICENSING TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HB 134-CRUISE SHIP WASTEWATER DISCHARGE PERMITS                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:15:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MCGUIREI announced the  consideration of HB 134. [Before                                                               
the committee was CSHB 134(RES).                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHN HARRIS,  Alaska State  Legislature, said  HB
134   pertains  to   the   economic   development  of   Southeast                                                               
communities and  the regulation of discharges  from cruise ships.                                                               
As per  a citizen's initiative,  levels of discharge  from cruise                                                               
ships  are  collected measured  at  the  point of  discharge.  He                                                               
compared  this  to  exhaust  coming   from  the  tailpipe  of  an                                                               
automobile.   The  initiative   further  requires   a  particular                                                               
discharge  level  to  be  met  by 2010,  but  technology  is  not                                                               
available to meet that requirement.  The only option would be for                                                               
the  ships to  build  larger holding  tanks  and discharge  three                                                               
miles offshore in federal waters.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HB 134  seeks to create a  waiver in law until  the technology is                                                               
available to meet  the 2010 standard. Up until now,  DEC has been                                                               
doing  this through  regulation. We  don't want  the industry  to                                                               
simply build larger holding tanks  and then dump even worse water                                                               
in deeper federal  waters. We want ships to be  able to discharge                                                               
in  Alaska's  waters in  a  manner  that  lives  up to  the  2010                                                               
standard.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:18:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HARRIS deferred  technical questions  to the  DEC                                                               
representatives.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEVENS asked  if the  cost  of the  technology will  be                                                               
considered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   HARRIS  said   DEC  will   make  that   sort  of                                                               
determination. The  current problem  is that  the instrumentation                                                               
doesn't  conform to  the  size  of the  ship.  The technology  is                                                               
available for  much larger  ships, but it  is too  cumbersome and                                                               
would require extensive rebuilding.  Some would say that building                                                               
larger holding tanks is a  technology, but that doesn't solve the                                                               
problem. DEC  says it  needs the ability  to keep  the industry's                                                               
feet  to  the  fire  until economically  feasible  technology  is                                                               
available. Hopefully that will be sooner than later, he added.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS asked if the discharge standard is universal.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:22:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS said no; the  standard in the initiative is                                                               
higher. The  effluent discharge standard  for a  sewage treatment                                                               
plant  is  much lower,  but  the  public  hasn't asked  for  that                                                               
standard to  be changed.  The public did  ask for  this discharge                                                               
standard for large cruise ships and  that has to be respected. At                                                               
the heart of  the matter is the fact that  only cruise ships have                                                               
measurements taken  at the point  of discharge; mixing  zones are                                                               
not  allowed. The  initial  bill eliminated  the  phrase "at  the                                                               
point of discharge."  Under the mixing zone  standard, every ship                                                               
today would  have met the 2010  standard; all ships did  not meet                                                               
the 2010 standard  under the point of  discharge measure. Ammonia                                                               
and  copper  are  particularly  problematic  under  the  stricter                                                               
standard. The issue comes down to  the amount of time that cruise                                                               
ships have  to meet  the standard and  under what  conditions. HB
134  doesn't  eliminate  the  standard; it  places  a  waiver  in                                                               
statute and the time frame is determined by the Legislature.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS said this appears to be a compromise.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS agreed;  he was asked to  carry the initial                                                               
bill and  the administration is now  on board. He added  that DEC                                                               
had been  issuing a  waiver that was  created by  regulation, but                                                               
not necessarily allowed under the initiative.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:26:17 PM                                                                                                                    
LARRY   HARTIG,    Commissioner,   Department    of   Environment                                                               
Conservation   (DEC),   said   DEC    has   been   working   with                                                               
Representative Harris  and the co-chairs  of the  House Resources                                                               
Committee  to address  the concerns  the administration  had with                                                               
the original version  of HB 134. He believes  everyone was guided                                                               
by the common  goal of protecting Alaska's clean  water. The real                                                               
issue was how  to coax a major industry to  reach a standard that                                                               
it cannot reach  today. Current Alaska statute  leaves the cruise                                                               
ship  companies  in  the difficult  position  of  discharging  in                                                               
federal  waters   or  discharging  in  violation   of  the  state                                                               
standard.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG explained that  DEC has provided a compliance                                                               
schedule  in a  general  permit  it issues  to  cruise ships.  He                                                               
clarified  that  this  isn't  a waiver.  DEC  has  statutory  and                                                               
regulatory authority to include  compliance schedules in permits,                                                               
but  there  are  severe  restrictions. To  develop  a  compliance                                                               
schedule  DEC has  to evaluate  what technology  can achieve  for                                                               
water treatment on  cruise ships, but EPA hasn't  looked at water                                                               
treatment for the cruise ship  industry. Because of this gap, DEC                                                               
had to use its judgment for the compliance schedules.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:29:50 PM                                                                                                                    
In an  effort to explore  this further, DEC invited  national and                                                               
international  experts to  participate in  a conference  that was                                                               
open to  the public. They  learned definitively that there  is no                                                               
existing technology  to allow cruise  ships to  consistently meet                                                               
the  point  of discharge  water  quality  standards for  ammonia,                                                               
copper, nickel, and  zinc. HB 134 adds a section  stating that as                                                               
long as  cruise ships employ  the most  technologically effective                                                               
and economically feasible treatment, DEC  is allowed to relax the                                                               
standard. That  being said,  it is intended  to be  temporary and                                                               
provisions in the bill provide technology forcing elements.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG said  any permit that DEC  issues or reissues                                                               
would  require  the  cruise  ship to  meet  the  water  treatment                                                               
achievable at the  time. DEC would appoint an  11 member advisory                                                               
panel   with  at   least  four   members   coming  from   coastal                                                               
communities,   the  cruise   industry,  the   commercial  fishing                                                               
industry, and non-governmental organizations  with an interest in                                                               
water quality issues.  The advisory panel and  DEC would evaluate                                                               
the reports  from the cruise  ship companies and  the technology,                                                               
and convene  additional technology conferences in  2011 and 2013,                                                               
and periodically  report back to  the Legislature. If you  had to                                                               
step in  you would be  acting with knowledge not  speculation. It                                                               
is DEC's  perspective that it  is extremely important to  be able                                                               
to regulate things based on science, he said.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HB 134  includes an  important anti-backsliding  provision, which                                                               
means that  permits for next  cruise season will be  rewritten to                                                               
include the  achievable technology  information learned  from the                                                               
technology conference.  Compliance schedules  may still  be used,                                                               
but  whenever a  permit is  reissued the  standards could  not be                                                               
less than  in the  previous permit. This  will continue  to drive                                                               
the industry toward the goal.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:34:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  how  many  cruise  ships  come  to                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG deferred to Lynn Kent for an exact number.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
LYNN   KENT,  Director,   Division   of   Water,  Department   of                                                               
Environmental Conservation (DEC) about  30 different large cruise                                                               
ships come to Alaska each year.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked how  many people  come to  Alaska on                                                               
cruise ships every year.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG replied about 1 million come each year.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked  how many gallons of  waste are being                                                               
discharged.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENT said she doesn't  have the specific information, but DEC                                                               
does collect that information from  all vessels that have permits                                                               
and choose to discharge in Alaska waters.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked for an estimate.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENT said it would be  in the millions of gallons. Responding                                                               
to  additional  questions, she  explained  that  about 10  or  12                                                               
vessels were permitted  to discharge in Alaska  waters last year.                                                               
They meet  Alaska water quality  standards for  everything except                                                               
ammonia, nickel, copper, and zinc.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked if  any  ships  currently have  the                                                               
technology to meet the 2011 standard.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENT replied  there are no vessels that  are discharging that                                                               
can meet all of the water quality standards all of the time.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR   WIELECHOWSKI    said   he   understands    that   some                                                               
organizations attending the  technology conference indicated that                                                               
the technology is available.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENT said  what they learned at the conference  is that there                                                               
are  technologies that  can treat  ammonia and  technologies that                                                               
can treat  metals. They have  been tried and used  in shore-based                                                               
facilities,  but  those systems  are  not  readily available  for                                                               
installation and  testing on ships.  There is a  possibility that                                                               
certain  things can  be treated  sooner  than others  and HB  134                                                               
allows  DEC   to  stage  the  requirements.   For  example,  when                                                               
technology  is available  to treat  ammonia it  can be  installed                                                               
immediately.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked if  there  could  be a  detrimental                                                               
impact on fish that are in areas where this waste is discharged.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:38:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. KENT replied DEC has  been involved in many studies including                                                               
a recent  one that  tested dilution in  the Skagway  harbor. That                                                               
study  showed  that  under  most  conditions  the  water  quality                                                               
standards would be met within 15 meters of the vessel.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HARTIG   added  that   the  Skagway   study  tested                                                               
stationary vessels and DEC could  require that vessels could only                                                               
discharge while  underway and away  from sensitive  fishing areas                                                               
and communities.  A vessel  traveling at six  knots has  a 60,000                                                               
dilution  factor  so  it  would be  extremely  unlikely  that  an                                                               
aquatic  organism  would   encounter  harmful  concentrations  of                                                               
waste.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  what  happens  to  the  discharged                                                               
aluminum, copper zinc, and nickel.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG replied these  elements and compounds already                                                               
exist in the  water; the question is if they  are concentrated to                                                               
the   point  of   harming.  HB   134   doesn't  change   existing                                                               
requirements  for  permits  including  disallowing  discharge  in                                                               
areas where  a material could  accumulate and concentrate  to the                                                               
point that it is harmful to organisms.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:41:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI said  he can't help but think  that at some                                                               
point the accumulation would be dangerous to aquatic life.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HARTIG said  if that  rationale applies,  there are                                                               
other sources of  copper and ammonia that are  larger than cruise                                                               
ship discharges.  He reiterated that  DEC would not  allow anyone                                                               
to  discharge  material  to  the   point  of  it  being  a  toxic                                                               
situation.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MCGUIRE  recognized  that Senator  Stedman  joined  the                                                               
committee  some time  ago and  Representative Johnson  is in  the                                                               
audience.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS asked Commissioner  Hartig to identify the larger                                                               
sources of ammonia and copper that he mentioned.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG  named domestic wastewater  treatment plants.                                                               
For example,  this city's wastewater  treatment plant  has higher                                                               
levels of copper than DEC sees on cruise ships, he said.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS  said he isn't  familiar with  Juneau's treatment                                                               
system, but he assumes that it  goes into the same area every day                                                               
and doesn't have a moving dilution factor.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HARTIG  said  they  do discharge  into  the  marine                                                               
environment  at a  fixed location.  The dilution  is a  result of                                                               
whatever current there may be.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  if there  have been  fish kills  from the                                                               
discharges from Juneau's treatment plant.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENT  replied she is not  aware of any reports  of fish kills                                                               
associated with domestic wastewater  discharge from Juneau or any                                                               
other community.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:44:34 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEDMAN asked  if the  point of  discharge at  the local                                                               
treatment plant would be comparable  to the point of discharge on                                                               
a cruise ship.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENT  said she does  not have the data  in front of  her, but                                                               
she recalls  that for  the four  parameters under  discussion the                                                               
levels  discharged  from  the  community  system  are  relatively                                                               
similar to the levels discharged by cruise ships.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN  asked the  effect 15-30 feet  from the  point of                                                               
discharge, if  the ship is traveling  at six knots, and  if it is                                                               
traveling 25 knots.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENT replied  she doesn't recall whether the  mixing zone for                                                               
the Juneau Douglas  plant is 90 feet or 90  meters. When a cruise                                                               
ship  is underway  at six  knots the  dilution factor  is 50,000,                                                               
which means that contaminants would  be undetectable in the water                                                               
behind the cruise ship.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:47:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  if  there is  a record  of  the number  of                                                               
cruise ships that dump in federal waters.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG  said DEC  has general  permits it  issues to                                                               
cruise ships and if they choose  to operate under the permit, DEC                                                               
receives monthly reports  on what is in the  discharged waste and                                                               
the  volumes. They  can also  elect not  to discharge  under that                                                               
permit.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  asked how many cruise  ships elect not to  have a                                                               
permit and instead dump in federal waters.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENT said  last year 12 ships were covered  under the general                                                               
permit.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH summarized  that 12 ships are  operating under the                                                               
DEC permit  and 19 dumping  in federal  waters. He asked  if it's                                                               
irrational  to  deduce  that  the  state's  water  standards  are                                                               
chasing people off to dump in the ocean.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:49:16 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HARTIG  said  the  cruise  companies  are  in  that                                                               
predicament.  They either  have to  comply with  requirements for                                                               
which  technology  doesn't  currently   exist  or  they  have  to                                                               
discharge three miles offshore.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  asked if anything  prohibits the 12  cruise ships                                                               
from dumping three miles offshore.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG replied  a ship that is  three miles offshore                                                               
is under  EPA's more relaxed  jurisdiction. "We have  very strict                                                               
standards in the state water."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  if subsection  (e) will  at some  point go                                                               
away  or if  there  will  be an  ongoing  effort  to improve  the                                                               
permits every year.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG said he's reluctant  to speculate on when the                                                               
technology  might be  available,  but he  knows  that the  cruise                                                               
ships are pretty darn close.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:52:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. KENT clarified that there were  31 cruise ships last year; 12                                                               
were not  permitted and 19 were  permitted. Some of the  19 ships                                                               
chose  not  to  discharge  under   the  DEC  permit  and  instead                                                               
discharged in federal waters.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG  said one issue  is that some of  these ships                                                               
didn't have the capacity to hold its waste.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN asked  for an explanation of the  donut holes and                                                               
their effect  in Chatham, Frederick Sound,  and Stephens Passage.                                                               
He noted that Glacier Bay also is under federal jurisdiction.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:53:26 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. KENT said she believes that  the donut holes have been closed                                                               
for purposes  of wastewater  discharge. She  said she  isn't sure                                                               
about Glacier Bay, but she would get an answer.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  how  many gallons  of wastewater  a                                                               
ship  can typically  hold and  how much  can be  released at  one                                                               
time.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KENT said  vessels  vary,  but some  can  hold thousands  of                                                               
gallons. The discharge is generally  dependent on the size of the                                                               
discharge port.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked for  specific information on how much                                                               
each ship  can hold, if  the entire tank  can be released  at one                                                               
time, and the definition of "economically feasible."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:55:29 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HARTIG said  that is  standard terminology  that is                                                               
applied  to any  discharger in  the  state. If  anybody wants  to                                                               
discharge  pollutants  into  state  waters that  already  have  a                                                               
quality that  exceeds what is  necessary to protect  aquatic life                                                               
and  other  uses,  DEC  does   an  anti-degradation  analysis  to                                                               
determine whether or  not it is appropriate  to allow degradation                                                               
of that clean water. Part of that  is to look at whether the most                                                               
technologically  effective methods  for  pollution reduction  are                                                               
being used  and if  they are economically  feasible. DEC  has not                                                               
defined that in regulation, but  relies on EPA standards. In this                                                               
case  there   are  no  EPA   standards  so  they  use   the  best                                                               
professional  judgment of  the engineers  and scientists  putting                                                               
the permit together.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  if  he has  experienced  that  the                                                               
definition of economically feasible has a wide range.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG  said he has  been involved in trying  to get                                                               
permits for 25 years and it  hasn't been a problem. The treatment                                                               
technologies are known and are progressing.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked  if  "economically  feasible"  takes  into                                                               
account the  underlying economics of  the industry that  is being                                                               
regulated.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HARTIG said he really  hasn't seen that. What he has                                                               
seen is that  when an onshore industry is using  a technology and                                                               
the  cruise  ships are  not,  the  differences and  the  economic                                                               
hurtles are examined and compared.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:59:15 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. KENT  added that the private  sector is on notice  that there                                                               
is a  need for  technology to meet  the more  strict requirements                                                               
for  treatment  of  ammonia  and  metals.  Companies  that  build                                                               
onshore  facilities now  are looking  at their  applicability for                                                               
vessels. DEC  judges economic  feasibility based  in part  on the                                                               
commercial availability of such facilities.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MCGUIRE asked Ms. Kent  if she had any further testimony                                                               
or information to contribute.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENT said  she has found information  indicating that vessels                                                               
are  voluntarily holding  their waste  when they  are in  Glacier                                                               
Bay. In  response to Senator  Wielechowski's earlier  request for                                                               
information  about  rate  of  discharge,  she  said  the  general                                                               
wastewater discharge rate is 10,000-15,000  gallons per hour. She                                                               
will  get  information  regarding  the  wastewater  holding  tank                                                               
capacity of each vessel to the committee later.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHIP THOMA,  Responsible Cruising  in Alaska (RCA),  Juneau, said                                                               
the Alaska  voters approved this  initiative in 2006, and  HB 134                                                               
extends  the time  for  cruise  ships to  comply  with the  water                                                               
quality standards.  RCA supports  a reasonable time  within which                                                               
to comply, but  would also like closure on the  issue. The sunset                                                               
provision  in  subsection  (e)  perhaps should  have  a  date  of                                                               
January 1, 2014.  Five seasons is an adequate length  of time, he                                                               
said.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMA  said the DEC water  division status report that  is in                                                               
the  bill packet  clearly describes  the  improvements that  each                                                               
cruise line  is making.  They all are  doing amazingly  well with                                                               
the exception  of Princess  Cruises and  Holland America.  HB 134                                                               
addresses  these problem  ships.  Many of  the  ships are  making                                                               
technological advances and  many are already in  compliance. As a                                                               
result, the term "economically feasible"  may be moot. If cost is                                                               
the only  impediment to install  proper wastewater  treatment for                                                               
ammonia  and suspended  metals, the  state could  establish a  no                                                               
interest loan program for installing  new cruise ship technology.                                                               
He noted  that the  City and  Borough of  Juneau has  provided no                                                               
interest loans so  that companies can install  quieter engines in                                                               
their flight  seeing planes. This  could be adapted on  the state                                                               
level if  there really  is a cost  problem with  installing these                                                               
technological advances,  he said. $70  million per year  in taxes                                                               
is coming in from the cruise  ships so there's an adequate amount                                                               
to do that.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Responding to  Senator Steven's question about  weighing the cost                                                               
of installing the  technology, he said some of  the ships already                                                               
have  adequate technology  and the  no interest  loan is  another                                                               
option. Larger holding  tanks may not be  the technology everyone                                                               
envisions,  but they  do  solve the  problem,  he said.  Clarence                                                               
Strait,  Sumner  Strait, Frederick  Sound,  Lynn  Canal, and  Icy                                                               
Straits are  areas where  fish migrate and  whales feed.  This is                                                               
also where one ship after  another discharges millions of gallons                                                               
of wastewater as they transit these passages.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:04:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  THOMA said  the  federal government  prohibits cruise  ships                                                               
from discharging while in Glacier  Bay so all that discharging is                                                               
done right outside  in Icy Strait near Point  Adolphus. That area                                                               
was formerly a  donut hole and is again being  used by ships that                                                               
have  to discharge  because they  don't  have sufficient  holding                                                               
capacity to wait  and discharge in federal waters.  He noted that                                                               
according to the  DEC report, the major source of  the copper and                                                               
zinc  in wastewater  is the  shipboard piping  that is  leaching.                                                               
Princess  and  Holland  America  are the  only  lines  that  have                                                               
refused to replace their piping.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMA again suggested the  committee amend the bill to sunset                                                               
subsection  (e)  and  look at  the  term  "economically"  because                                                               
that's  not   the  question.  It's  whether   the  technology  is                                                               
available in a size that can fit onboard the ship.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
5:06:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN  said he's curious  to know how  measurements can                                                               
be taken from a ship that is moving at 25 knots or more.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMA said  DEC established a science panel in  1999 and 2000                                                               
to  look  at mixing  zones.  They  came  up with  the  dispersing                                                               
formula,  but  it's  based  on  engineering  so  none  of  it  is                                                               
scientific.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN  said he'd  like to learn  more because  it would                                                               
seem that the dilution factor  would be greater when traveling at                                                               
speed instead of tied to the dock.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  asked Mr. Thoma  if he believes  that discharging                                                               
in federal waters is a good option for the cruise ships.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMA replied he would  much rather they discharge in federal                                                               
waters than in areas where fish migrate and whales feed.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:09:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS  asked  if  some  of  the  ships  have  actually                                                               
replaced all their copper piping.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMA said yes. He paraphrased  and commented on pages 3-5 of                                                               
the DEC report as follows:                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     On  page 3  the Silver  Shadow fine-tuned  its existing                                                                    
     wastewater  treatment  system,  replaced  some  of  its                                                                    
     piping and  bows. Norwegian  Cruise Line  - replacement                                                                    
     is   being  done   primarily  to   address  maintenance                                                                    
     problems, bursting pipes, but  this also may reduce the                                                                    
     amount  of  metals  in  the  ships'  affluent.  They're                                                                    
     replacing sections of the metal potable water.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Then  on page  4 the  Seven Seas  Mariner met  the long                                                                    
     term  effluent  limits  for nickel,  replaced  corroded                                                                    
     metallic piping  and valves. Celebrity  Royal Caribbean                                                                    
     those  ships consistently  discharge outside  of Alaska                                                                    
     waters  and  many  of  the  ships  have  replaced  many                                                                    
     portions  of  their  potable   water  piping  with  non                                                                    
     metallic piping.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Then you go  to Princess and Holland and  you find that                                                                    
     has  not been  done.  Princess is  saying they  produce                                                                    
     drinking water that is very  soft and may corrode their                                                                    
     pipes and leach metals  into their wastewater effluent.                                                                    
     However,   Princess  did   not   provide  any   details                                                                    
     regarding  the actions  that they  would take  to avoid                                                                    
     this such  as bunkering water, increasing  the ratio of                                                                    
     drinking water or changing out  their pipes. Same thing                                                                    
     with  Holland   America  -  five   of  the   HAL  ships                                                                    
     consistently  exceeded the  long  term effluent  levels                                                                    
     for  ammonia and  metals. The  Statendam  met them  for                                                                    
     copper.  Sample data  indicate bunkered  water contains                                                                    
     elevated levels  of metal.  Drinking water  produced by                                                                    
     the  vessels  also   contains  significant  amounts  of                                                                    
     metals. They're  generating about  60 percent  of their                                                                    
     water  onboard the  ships  with  their own  evaporation                                                                    
     systems  all   made  out  of   copper  pipes.   So  the                                                                    
     combination  of  copper   pipes  in  2,000  staterooms,                                                                    
     kitchens  and everyplace  else  plus  the water  making                                                                    
     facilities, you've  got an incredible amount  of copper                                                                    
     leaching and zinc leaching going on.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     That  is the  source  of the  problem  on Princess  and                                                                    
     Holland America  ships. The other ships  are addressing                                                                    
     it. They realize it's the  problem. They're trading out                                                                    
     their pipes  for flex tubing. So  this whole discussion                                                                    
     of  bunkered  water  and  high   levels  of  copper  in                                                                    
     Southeast,  that's not  the problem.  It's onboard  the                                                                    
     ships itself.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
5:11:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked if he agrees with Commissioner                                                                      
Hartig's assertion that tremendous dilution occurs in the ocean.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMA said he is not an expert, but he's always been told                                                                   
that the DEC science panel developed the formula for the                                                                        
dilution  factor  based on  engineering.  They  released dye  and                                                               
noted when it could no longer be seen.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:13:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTOPHER KRENZ,  Scientist, said  he represents  Oceana, which                                                               
is a nonprofit ocean conservation  organization that has over 200                                                               
years of  life experience and  work in  Alaska. He said  that the                                                               
State of Alaska  has been a world leader  in responsibly managing                                                               
cruise ship pollution and Oceana  would encourage continuation of                                                               
that  leadership  by  maintaining the  existing  protections  for                                                               
marine resources.  The current version  of HB 134  would increase                                                               
the amount of pollution dumped  into coastal waters and eliminate                                                               
an important incentive to reduce  the discharge of pollutants and                                                               
contravene  the  clearly stated  will  of  Alaska voters.  Alaska                                                               
coastal  resources are  vital and  the vast  quantities of  waste                                                               
that cruise ships discharge into  the marine environment threaten                                                               
the resources upon which Alaskans and the industry depend.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HB 134 would alter a key  provision of the law that voters passed                                                               
by  initiative  requiring  stringent regulation  of  cruise  ship                                                               
pollution. Cruise ship would be  allowed to discharge into mixing                                                               
zones,  which are  areas  in which  pollutant  levels can  exceed                                                               
applicable  state  water  quality standards.  The  copper,  zinc,                                                               
nickel and ammonia pollutants for  which the cruise ship industry                                                               
might  seek mixing  zones are  toxic to  marine life.  Copper and                                                               
ammonia are toxic at very  low concentrations that are just above                                                               
the  state's water  quality standard.  Science  based limits  for                                                               
these  pollutants  are contained  in  the  state's water  quality                                                               
standards.   These  standards   represent  the   best  scientific                                                               
determination  of acceptable  levels  of pollutants  based on  an                                                               
agreed  level of  risk  to human  health and  the  health of  the                                                               
environment. Under current law cruise  ships are required to meet                                                               
these standards. Any statement that  changing this requirement to                                                               
allow  mixing  zones  would  improve  the  scientific  basis  for                                                               
regulations  is false.  Science  has  determined the  appropriate                                                               
limits  and any  policy choice  to allow  cruise ships  to exceed                                                               
those limits would be a mistake.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:15:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. KRENZ said  the requirement that cruise  ships meet discharge                                                               
limits  at the  point of  emission is  an important  incentive to                                                               
implement  existing technologies  and keep  the pollution  out of                                                               
Alaska waters. Many vessels are  already meeting this requirement                                                               
at  least  at times.  Recent  research  indicates that  promising                                                               
technology exists and simply must  be implemented on other cruise                                                               
ships. The incentive to do  so should not be eliminated. Alaska's                                                               
waterways are  finite and we  should minimize the  pollution that                                                               
is dumped while striving to  eliminate pollution all together. We                                                               
encourage  the  committee  to  maintain  protections  for  Alaska                                                               
waters and  incentives to improve  those protections  by opposing                                                               
altering  the  state  cruise  ship initiative  or  at  the  least                                                               
amending this bill to establish a deadline for any exemption.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if he  is able to  answer scientific                                                               
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. KRENZ replied he has a Ph.D. in marine ecology.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  noted  the earlier  testimony  about  the                                                               
dilution factor  and asked  if he  believes that  allowing cruise                                                               
ships  to dump  wastewater  into Alaska  waters  is hazardous  to                                                               
marine life.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. KRENZ said the written  testimony he submitted addresses this                                                               
in greater detail, but a lot  of aquatic life is impacted by very                                                               
low concentrations of copper.  This includes organisms throughout                                                               
the  food web  from algae  to zooplankton  to shellfish  fish and                                                               
fish. Animals in early life stages,  such as mussels and clams in                                                               
the  larval  phase,  may  be  particularly  sensitive  to  copper                                                               
toxicity.  Sub-lethal  impacts  to   salmon  occur  at  very  low                                                               
concentrations  and can  impair the  ability to  smell, which  is                                                               
critical for migration  and finding natal stream.  Copper is also                                                               
known  to affect  salmon's immune  response, brain  function, and                                                               
metabolism.    Many    species    can    bio-accumulate    copper                                                               
concentrations hundreds  of times  higher than  concentrations in                                                               
the  surrounding water.  He noted  that  his submitted  testimony                                                               
references those statements with citations.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KRENZ opined  that dilution  is never  the solution.  When a                                                               
cruise  ship is  dumping underway  dilution is  great, but  fecal                                                               
coliform  levels are  a  concern when  multiple  ships with  many                                                               
passengers are  transiting the same  area day after  day. Another                                                               
concern is that  it basically allows mixing zones in  any area in                                                               
Southeast  Alaska  that  cruise  ships   are  allowed  to  go.  A                                                               
difference  between  a cruise  ship  and  a municipal  wastewater                                                               
treatment plant is that the  municipal discharge is confined to a                                                               
particular area.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:19:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  KRENZ said  this would  allow  mixing zones.  Juneau is  one                                                               
place  to  have polluted  water  and  is  confined, and  this  it                                                               
throughout Southeast Alaska.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR   WIELECHOWSKI  noted   that  he   saw  a   presentation                                                               
indicating that  concentrations of copper  at a couple  parts per                                                               
billion have  a tremendous  impact on the  ability for  salmon to                                                               
get  around.  He  asked  if   copper,  lead,  zinc,  and  ammonia                                                               
evaporate or  accumulate over time  when they're dumped  into the                                                               
ocean.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KRENZ  replied  it  differs   depending  on  the  particular                                                               
pollutant. Ammonia will  be broken down and used  by marine algae                                                               
and others  as a  nutrient. The heavy  metals don't  disappear so                                                               
they are  of particular concern  with respect to  accumulation in                                                               
the environment.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if copper,  zinc and nickel  sink to                                                               
the bottom and get into  shellfish and bottom feeders or continue                                                               
to circulate in the ocean.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:21:46 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  KRENZ  said  that  isn't  his  area  of  expertise,  but  he                                                               
understands that copper sinks into the sediments.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  BINKLEY,  Alaska  Cruise Association,  Fairbanks,  said  he                                                               
represents nine cruise lines and  about 100 small businesses that                                                               
depend on  cruise ship  passengers. He  said he  certainly agrees                                                               
with Mr. Krenz's  statement that Alaska has  the highest standard                                                               
in  the  world for  cruise  ship  wastewater discharge.  Alaskans                                                               
should be proud  of the standards and that they  were set by DEC,                                                               
the  independent scientists  on  the science  panel and  industry                                                               
working  in  cooperation. As  a  result,  industry went  out  and                                                               
invested over $200 million in  shipboard systems that achieve the                                                               
highest standards achievable. That is success, he said.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
If  the cruise  line industry  had  been mandated  to achieve  an                                                               
unreasonable standard, it  could have spent that  $200 million to                                                               
reconfigure their  ships to increase  tankage so that  they could                                                               
ignore the Alaska  standards and discharge beyond  three miles in                                                               
federal waters. "But  we didn't." Alaska and the  industry did it                                                               
right and  now the Alaska  standard is what everybody  else looks                                                               
to. Now when  these ships transit the world they  discharge at an                                                               
extremely high  standard. In fact, some  companies have installed                                                               
the technology on all their ships.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
5:24:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BINKLEY  said  this  shows that  when  industry  works  with                                                               
regulators  it can  improve the  water quality  of the  ocean. He                                                               
urged the committee to continue  the compromise by getting rid of                                                               
the five words. They set a  standard that none of the other 1,000                                                               
or so  Alaska discharge permits  has to  meet. In fact,  he would                                                               
challenge the sponsors of the  initiative to show even one permit                                                               
to discharge  wastewater into  U.S. waters that  has to  meet the                                                               
"at  the   point  of  discharge"   standard.  This   standard  is                                                               
unreasonable  to  achieve,  and  if  the  current  compromise  is                                                               
sunsetted,  there will  be no  incentive for  industry to  invest                                                               
money  to improve  their existing  systems. Instead  it would  be                                                               
inclined  to look  at reconfiguring  their ships  to have  larger                                                               
holding  tanks and  Alaska's  standards  would become  irrelevant                                                               
because no one would apply for  permit. He urged the committee to                                                               
pass the  House resources version of  the bill. He added  that he                                                               
has  the   answers  to  many   of  the  questions   that  Senator                                                               
Wielechowski asked.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:27:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  MCGUIRE  invited  him  back  to  a  subsequent  hearing                                                               
because the committee is under  time constraints today. She asked                                                               
others who wanted to testify to contact her office.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS asked  if it's true that  shipboard copper piping                                                               
is  the source  of  most of  the  copper and  zinc  found in  the                                                               
discharge,  and  if  he  believes that  all  cruise  ships  would                                                               
replace their copper piping if they were allowed more time.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. BINKLEY  said he is surprised  at the expertise of  Mr. Thoma                                                               
with  regard  to  shipboard  piping.   He  knows  that  the  Star                                                               
Princess,   which  had   five  of   the  eight   violations,  was                                                               
constructed in 2002  with stainless steel main  piping and copper                                                               
feeder pipes to  staterooms. It is not an old  ship with corroded                                                               
copper pipes. He explained that  anytime water runs through pipes                                                               
it will pick up small parts  per billion of whatever material the                                                               
pipe is  made of. If the  pipe is galvanized the  water will pick                                                               
up particles  of zinc, if the  pipe is stainless steel  the water                                                               
will often  pick up particles  of nickel,  if the pipe  is copper                                                               
the water  will pick up particles  of copper. Unless the  pipe is                                                               
made of  glass or ceramics  it will  pick up minute  amounts that                                                               
are small  enough to be difficult  to measure. He offered  to get                                                               
the details of the piping on each of the 31 ships.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MCGUIRE announced she would hold HB 134 in committee.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 177 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 4/6/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 177
HB 134 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 4/6/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 134