Ryndam spill estimate jumps to 40,000 gallons

Source of discharge was sinks, showers and sewage system

Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2002

The cruise ship Ryndam discharged more partially treated wastewater - about 40,000 gallons - into Juneau's harbor on Aug. 17 than earlier thought, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and company officials.

Latest findings suggest the Ryndam discharged that much partially treated wastewater from the ship's sinks, showers and sewage system into Juneau's harbor, according to the Coast Guard.

Holland America earlier estimated 250 gallons of partially treated wastewater was discharged. The Coast Guard earlier gave a rough estimate of less than 1,000 gallons.

Coast Guard officials boarded the ship in Juneau over the weekend to continue the investigation.

"We looked at the capacity of the pump, the flow rate and the diameter of the pump and got a rough estimate of 40,000 (gallons)," said Lt. Cmdr. Joe Paitl of the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office in Juneau. "We ran it by the vessel's crew and they agreed with the numbers."

But Holland America officials say the number may be on the high end. The company conducted additional tests Tuesday night.

"That's based on if everything was wide open and full. It wasn't wide open and full," company spokesman Erik Elvejord said. "We know the initial number isn't the right number. It was probably a little higher than that."

The company continues to study the pump, value and tank levels, although it may be nearly impossible to get an exact number, he said.

Once crew members realized the ship was discharging the substance, they diverted it to an empty tank to prevent further spillage, the Coast Guard said. The Ryndam is one of five Holland America ships in Alaska that use an advanced wastewater treatment system.

The Coast Guard and the state Department of Environmental Conservation continue to investigate the incident. The maximum civil penalty allowed under federal law is $25,000 per day per violation, according to the Coast Guard, although no charges have been filed.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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