Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/30/2004 03:30 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                                                                                                                                
              HB 522-SMALL CRUISE SHIP DISCHARGES                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SCOTT  OGAN called the Senate  Resources Standing Committee                                                             
meeting  to  order at  3:30  p.m.  Present were  Senators  Thomas                                                               
Wagoner,  Ben Stevens,  Fred  Dyson, Kim  Elton  and Chair  Scott                                                               
Ogan. The  first order of  business to come before  the committee                                                               
was HB 522 am.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LINDA SYLVESTER,  staff to  Representative Bruce  Weyhrauch,                                                               
sponsor, related that in 2001  the Alaska Legislature enacted the                                                               
Commercial  Vessel  Environmental  Complaints  Program  to  solve                                                               
concerns  over  cruise  ship  and  state  ferry  discharges  into                                                               
Alaskan waters.  Since then, most  cruise ships  discharging into                                                               
Alaskan  waters  have  installed  advanced  wastewater  treatment                                                               
systems,   which   has   dramatically  improved   water   quality                                                               
samplings. Small cruise  vessels are required to  comply with the                                                               
same  standards   for  the  larger  vessels,   even  though  they                                                               
contribute  approximately  only  3   percent  of  the  wastewater                                                               
discharge.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
The  assumption  was  made that  the  environmental  technologies                                                               
invented  by the  large cruise  ships  would filter  down to  the                                                               
small vessels, which  were given a period of time  to comply; and                                                               
that has now expired. Technology  that was invented for the large                                                               
vessels doesn't work with the  smaller vessels. The Department of                                                               
Environmental   Conservation   (DEC)   and   the   small   vessel                                                               
organization worked  together to come  up with an  alternative so                                                               
that small  vessels would  not be forced  to retrofit  with large                                                               
holding wastewater  tanks. The  plan is  flexible enough  for the                                                               
department and vessels to check  back with each other every three                                                               
years to come  up with a new plan to  utilize new technology that                                                               
doesn't require massive retrofitting.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DAN  EASTON,  Director, Division  of  Water,  Department  of                                                               
Environmental Conservation  (DEC), related  that it's  clear that                                                               
this legislation  refers to just  small vessels  carrying between                                                               
50  to 250  passengers. It  was hoped  in 2001  that some  of the                                                               
larger treatment  technologies could be  scaled down and  made to                                                               
work  on  the  smaller  vessels,  which  hasn't  happened.  Small                                                               
vessels are now required to  add technology that doesn't exist or                                                               
add tankage. The  problem arises only at  anchor, because vessels                                                               
can either hold  their discharge until they are under  way or add                                                               
tankage. This  bill would add another  option limiting discharges                                                               
either to volume, time, or to certain locations.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN asked  if any ships were built after  the last law was                                                               
passed in reference to January 1, 2004 in section 6.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. EASTON replied that he didn't know the answer.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEN  STEVENS asked if  the owner providing evidence  of a                                                               
change in its  treatment system would trigger a  stability test -                                                               
in reference to lines 21 - 24.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EASTON  replied that  the  department  didn't envision  this                                                               
situation happening very much.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     We were  really going to focus  on management practices                                                                    
     and non-structural  changes.... There  was a  belief on                                                                    
     the part of the drafters  that there would be some sort                                                                    
     of firm guideline.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS asked when the guidelines would be adopted.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EASTON replied  that  the bill  has no  time  frame, but  he                                                               
intends to start immediately.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS asked  him to explain the year  2016 timeframe in                                                               
sections 3, 5, 8, 10, 12 and 13.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EASTON replied  that those  sections  eliminate the  wording                                                               
that hasn't worked and adds  the new provision on best management                                                               
practices for small vessels until 2016.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER  explained  that  the  plan  for  best  management                                                               
practices is reviewed  every three years, but goes  away in 2015.                                                               
The date  mirrors what the  industry felt  is the useful  life of                                                               
the  vessels.  It  is  also   an  estimate  of  when  the  better                                                               
technology will be  readily available and when new  boats will be                                                               
replacing the older ones.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BRYCE  BROCKWAY, Vice President,  Marine Hotel  and Technical                                                               
Operations, Cruise  West, said  they operate  six of  the smaller                                                               
vessels ranging in size from 74 passengers up to 114.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN asked if any keels  had been laid between the time the                                                               
last bill  had been  passed and  now. He wanted  to know  who was                                                               
exempt from the language.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROCKWAY  replied that Cruise  West hadn't laid any  more new                                                               
keels; but  America West  had laid  one and  plans to  operate in                                                               
Alaska. He  also informed the committee  that some municipalities                                                               
don't want to introduce seawater  into their systems and seawater                                                               
is used as a flushing mechanism in their systems.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. DAVID  BERG, President, Viking  Travel Agency, said  that the                                                               
small ships are important to  the economy of Petersburg and urged                                                               
passage of HB 522.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CAPTAIN  MICHAEL  JONES,  Director,  Marine  Operations,  Linblad                                                               
Expeditions,  said   it  belongs  to  the   Small  Cruise  Vessel                                                               
Association  that  is  representing  Cruise  West  and  has  been                                                               
operating in Alaska since 1982.  In 1989 it purchased two vessels                                                               
that are  152 ft. long  and carry 70  passengers and 24  crew. He                                                               
supported the best management practices in HB 522.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. JOHN  WATERHOUSE, Elliot Bay  Design Group, Seattle,  said he                                                               
would  answer questions  on wastewater  design issues,  but there                                                               
were none.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS  WAGONER moved  to pass HB  522 am  from committee                                                               
with individual  recommendations and attached fiscal  note. There                                                               
were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                       

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