Environment & Science

EPA proposal would ban ship sewage dumping near California coast

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Federal environmental officials are proposing a ban on cruise ships and cargo ships dumping sewage in the three miles closest to California's shores.

The regional chief of the Environmental Protection Agency says the Golden State's coast is a draw, and the agency should protect the health of its inhabitants. If the proposed rule goes through, U.S. Coast Guard vessels would have the power to ticket cruise and cargo ships for releasing their waste too close to the coast.

EPA officials say those ships drop up to 20 million gallons of sewage within 3 miles of California now. Current rules permit ships to release sewage they’ve chemically treated. This proposal would end that practice for ships of 300 tons or more.

The cruise ship industry has fought additional regulations on its waste handling practices by arguing that those rules would be stricter than those that govern on-shore sewage released into the sea.

Regulators say millions of passengers move through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles each year. The EPA proposal is open to public comment for 60 days, after which the federal government will respond and possibly make the rule final.