Cruise Science Panel Considers Water Study

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Alaska’s cruise ship science advisory panel takes up water-quality issues at a meeting this week in Juneau.

The 11-member group will hear about an industry-sponsored study of the water ships pump aboard in port communities. The study shows some samples exceeding allowable concentrations of dissolved copper, zinc and nickel.

Cruise ship program manager Rob Edwardson says that could have an impact on regulation of cruise-ship discharges.

“The constituents that already exist in the water that is taken onboard could have measurable quantities in the discharge. And the purpose of going over the study is to benchmark what those levels may be,” he says.

The panel will discuss whether to accept the Alaska Cruise Association’s study, or conduct its own. Industry critics say they want an independent study.

The meeting is being held Thursday and Friday at Juneau’s Centennial Hall. Members will also hear about the state’s wastewater treatment system approval process. And they will hear information on naval architecture and space issues that could affect onboard equipment installation. (Read the panel’s agenda.)

“Some of the science panel members don’t necessarily come from the maritime field. So this would be going over with them in general terms some restrictions and capabilities of ships in general,” he says.

Edwardson began managing the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Cruise Ship Program last month. He’s a longtime Southeast Alaskan and a retired Coast Guard officer who has worked with hazardous materials, law enforcement, and environmental protection programs.

“I’ve always been interested in cruise ships, since I was a little boy. And I wanted to be part of a program that overlooked the industry and helped out the environment in Southeast Alaska,” he says.

Edwardson takes over from Denise Koch, who left the job earlier this year.

The Legislature created the science panel in 2009 to evaluate wastewater treatment options for cruise ships.

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