Cruise association invites testing to curb activist ire

ANCHORAGE: Attempting to appease environmentalists who have accused the Alaska cruise industry of spewing pollutants into the oceans, the Northwest Cruiseship Association has agreed to allow voluntary testing of waste water on 22 of its passenger ships this summer. The move, however, has been dismissed by environmental groups as a mere PR ploy.

ANCHORAGE: Attempting to appease environmentalists who have accused the Alaska cruise industry of spewing pollutants into the oceans, the Northwest Cruiseship Association has agreed to allow voluntary testing of waste water on 22 of its passenger ships this summer. The move, however, has been dismissed by environmental groups as a mere PR ploy.

ANCHORAGE: Attempting to appease environmentalists who have accused

the Alaska cruise industry of spewing pollutants into the oceans, the

Northwest Cruiseship Association has agreed to allow voluntary testing

of waste water on 22 of its passenger ships this summer. The move,

however, has been dismissed by environmental groups as a mere PR

ploy.



The testing comes on the heels of new EPA inquiries into the need for

regulation of the entire industry as well as increased pressure from

Alaska legislators. The results of the voluntary tests will be made

available to the Coast Guard but will otherwise remain confidential.



As a result, critics view the testing as little more than a tactic for

softening public opinion. ’The industry is spinning this as a PR thing

rather than admitting there is a serious problem,’ said Kira Schmidt,

cruise ship campaign director for Bluewater Network, a California-based

environmental activist group.



However, Nick Schoengerdt, policy director for the Holland American

Line, denies that the testing is PR-related and claims that the cruise

industry’s goal is to put people’s worries about hazardous-waste dumping

to rest.



’The industry has been frustrated by activists’ claims and unequal

coverage in the press,’ he explained. ’We know our waste is not toxic

and we are backing up our story with facts.’



To this end, the Alaska cruise industry has been holding monthly

meetings with the EPA, the Alaskan political community and environmental

activist groups like the highly influential Center For Marine

Conservation, which are open to the press and the public.



The industry has been combating an image of environmental

irresponsibility since the 1990s, when the Holland America Line and

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines were both accused of illegal waste dumping.

Both lines have agreed to participate in the voluntary testing.



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