Cyrstal Serenity recently made a voyage through the Northwest Passage across the Arctic.

Cyrstal Serenity recently made a voyage through the Northwest Passage across the Arctic. It is estimated thousands of gallons of waste were discharged, but done according to current rules. WWF-Canada is asking the rules for ship discharge of grey water to be tightened
Photo Credit: Crystal Cruises

Call for stricter controls on ship discharges in the Arctic

The World Wildlife Fund-Canada is asking Canada’s transportation regulatory agency to stiffen the rules for ship discharge of “grey water” in the Arctic.

Grey water is usually considered waste water from such sources as that from sinks, showers, and dish washing but not from toilets. However it does contain a variety of bacteria and chemicals.The WWF-Canada says grey water discharge is regulated in the south but not in the Arctic.

Transport Canada is currently reviewing its rules for safety and pollution and WWF says they should at least adopt the same level of regulation in Arctic waters as in southern waters, although they would like even stiffer rules to be established given the delicate ecosystem in the Arctic.

The environmental group goes on to say that in the US waters of Alaska, there are discharge regulations with specific definitions of grey water and requirements on monitoring.

The group suggests that transport Canada

  • -Designate grey water as a specific type of waste in waters north of 60 degrees latitude, which cuts through Hudson Bay and is generally where the provinces and territories meet.
  • -Improve standards to at least align with Alaska, which stipulates that grey water cannot be discharged unless it meets strict requirements concerning levels of suspended solids and fecal coliform. This means requiring stringent sampling, testing, record keeping and reporting.
  • -Institute an effective inspection and enforcement system to ensure requirements are met.

WWF-Canada says this is important as ship traffic, especially from huge cruise ships, is likely to increase greatly in coming years.

Transport Canada is reviewing and revising its rules in light of a new international Polar Code slated to come into force next year.

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