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EPA Bans Sewage Discharge Along Coast

WASHINGTON (CN) - Cruise ships and other passenger ships larger than 300 gross tons will have to leave California waters before discharging their sewage, according to new rules adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency adopted the rules in response to a 2006 petition from the California State Water Resources Control Board requesting a no discharge zone extending three miles from the shore line and encompassing all enclosed bays and estuaries and islands including the Farallone and Channel Islands.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, sewage treated by marine sanitation devices often contains higher concentrations of pathogens and pollutants than sewage from land-based waste water treatment plants.

The ecology of more than 120 miles of the California coast is impaired by pathogens from sewage, the EPA says. The agency estimates that the new restrictions will prohibit the discharge of 22.5 million gallons of sewage per year.

The new rules apply only to ships with sewage holding tank capacity or containing sewage generated while the vessel was outside state waters.

The rules go into effect March 28.

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