Alaska ferries’ treatment systems out of date

JUNEAU, Alaska — Many state-owned vessels use 1970s-era wastewater treatment processes.


JUNEAU, Alaska — Officials claim state ferries treat wastewater to standards common in the 1970s, according to

The state owns 11 ferries, eight of which kill bacteria with chlorine before grinding waste and discharging it, noted Ed White of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) cruise ship program, in the article. The process was common on cruise ships until 2000, when more advanced wastewater systems were adopted. White stated that the state transportation department was working to upgrade the systems.

The five largest ferries fall under state regulations for small cruise ships, reported the article. These ships must sample treated wastewater twice per year, according to DEC standards.

“They’re meeting the federal requirements, but the federal requirements were written 40 years ago,” White added in the article.

While cruise ships discharge much more wastewater than ferries, chlorine is still toxic to marine life, shared the article. White explained ferries have installed de-chlorination units.

Untreated wastewater cannot be dumped within about 3.5 miles of land because of Coast Guard rules, but ferries can dump anywhere in Alaska since they treat water with chlorine tablets first, stated the article.

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