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State: 15 cruise ship pollution violations since mid-July

Posted: Sunday, August 20, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Cruise ships visiting Juneau emitted illegal quantities of smoke on 15 occasions in the past month, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The agency on Friday issued air pollution violation notices to six cruise lines: Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Crystal Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines.

The notices assert that 11 ships owned by these companies emitted pollution levels exceeding limits established under state law. The companies have 30 days to respond and submit a plan for correcting the problems.

DEC officials said they will refer the matter to the attorney general's office for possible civil action.

The 15 violations were based on 81 visual examinations of cruise ship emissions so far this summer.

Under state emissions standards, visibility may not be reduced by more than 20 percent except for brief periods while the ship is tied up at the dock, or for slightly longer periods while maneuvering.

Eric Elvejord, spokesman for Holland America, said his company has noticed that some aspects of the DEC readings seem to conflict with data compiled by the ship. He didn't provide specifics, but said Holland America will examine its emissions logs and discuss the matter with the DEC.

Some cruise lines have criticized the accuracy of monitoring, and did so again Friday.

''Based on our experiences in the past, reading smoke is a very subjective thing,'' said John Hansen, president of the Vancouver-based Northwest CruiseShip Association. It can be influenced by weather, the time of day, the quality of the background against which the smoke is measured and other factors, Hansen said.

Kim Metcalfe-Helmar, a community activist pressing for tighter controls over the industry, was encouraged by Friday's action.

''I'm glad they're doing something about it,'' she said.

The DEC's $250,000 smoke reading program began on July 11 and will continue for four more summers. The money comes from a $6.5 million fine Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. paid last year for dumping toxic chemicals into the waters of Southeast in the mid-1990s and then lying about it to investigators.



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