Juneau residents are getting a rare opportunity to see first-hand how the cruise ship industry is handling on-board wastes. It gives locals the chance to actually see environmental protection measures that are in place, as well as to preview new technological advances that will help mitigate water discharges and air emissions.
With all the recent controversy surrounding cruise ship discharges into the Inside Passage, this will give Juneauites a chance to get better educated about changes the industry is making. We encourage everyone who wants to learn more about this issue to take a tour.
The three-day event is part of Environmental Awareness Days and is a collaborative effort put on by the cruise ship industry, state and federal regulators, and citizen activists.
As this paper is being delivered, tours are already being given. Additional tours of cruise ships are planned Thursday and Friday. Those tours will take place beginning at 9:30 a.m. and run through 11:30 a.m. Additional tours are planned starting at 1 p.m. through 3:30 p.m. The tours are expected to last about 45 minutes; flat shoes are recommended and you will need to be able to climb stairs. Children under 12 aren't permitted.
In addition, an open house will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Hall. Citizens will have a chance to talk with members of the Cruise Ship Initiative about various environmental issues. There also will be a general presentation given from 6-8 p.m. that night.
The Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative, made up of citizens, industry reps and regulators, should be commended for putting on the tours. The cruise lines have taken a lot of flack lately - some of it justified - yet they are at least responding to citizen complaints.
We urge everyone interested in this issue vital to our waters to take the tour and attend the meetings. An informed public is the cornerstone of our democratic system, and is paramount that we as responsible citizens learn as much as we can about wastewater and air emission programs so we can make informed decisions concerning this issue.