Here’s How Much Wastewater Cruise Ships Dump Into British Columbia

bc cruise ship waste

Did you know that B.C. cruise ship waste accounts for 31 billion litres of ocean pollution each year?

A report by environmental organizations and West Coast Environmental Law reported on this massive amount of waste that is seen annually. However, this year, that amount can be saved as the federal government extended its ban on cruises. 

RELATED: British Columbia Plans To Create and Expand Up To 16 New Provincial Parks

B.C. Cruise Ship Waste Numbers

To put this all in perspective, let’s look at a one-week cruise to Alaska.

On a ship with 2,800 passengers and 1,500 crew, there can be:

  • 1 million litres of  human sewage
  • 8.7 million litres of grey water from sinks, showers and laundry facilities
  • 200 million litres of scrubber wash water (used to filter bunker fuel)
  • 8 tonnes of garbage
  • 95,000 litres of oily bilge water

In 2019, there were over 1 million passengers on 30 cruise ships that sailed from B.C. to Alaska.

Due to the pandemic, there was a ban on cruise ships with more than 100 passengers. This allowed for these waters to get a much needed break from getting “dumped” on.

What Does The Future Hold?

West Coast Environmental Law, believes this pandemic-related ban is the perfect opportunity to consider the rules and regulations that should change in regards to dumping waste from cruise ships.

Of highest concern is the wash water that is dumped in the ocean. This is critical for the endangered killer whales around Vancouver Island. 

Recommendations have included mandating the use of low-sulfur marine gas oil, as California does. However, the most crucial recommendation, from the, is to end the dumping of any wastewater in Canada’s Marine Protected Areas. 

Hopefully, as life resumes post-COVID-19 pandemic, the B.C. cruise ship waste can be resolved in efforts to keep the coast beautiful and safe.


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