Industrial tourism pollution is a fact

Posted: Friday, September 08, 2000

In response to Jack Cadigan's My Turn (Juneau Empire, Thursday, Sept. 7), I find a bit bizarre the claim that "overboard discharge is a non-problem locally." Why would the federal government fine law-breaking cruise ship companies millions of dollars for illegally dumping tons of trash in Alaskan waters, including the Inside Passage, if this is not a problem? Why would the cruise ship lines then lie about it to government officials? Cruise ship companies even had the gall to construct an illegal dumping system so no one would find out. As a matter of fact, it was the same Coast Guard Mr. Cadigan worked for for so many years who were lied to by the garbage-dumping industrial tourism industry! I don't want to eat fish that swim, breathe, and eat in the fecal-infested waters the cruise ships provide at a level 100,000 times the federal limit.

I live downtown, not across the channel on Douglas. When we experience certain southerly winds, vast amounts of smoke from the smokestacks waft into town. There are times when the bowl that Basin Road empties into is a smoky blue. It's like walking 20 feet behind a slow-moving, diesel-belching bus. Perhaps I should invite those who say air pollution from cruise ships is "ludicrous" to take a walk with me on one of those days. If you want to come with me, I hope you're not asthmatic, like my wife.

As for Mr. Cadigan's claim that noise pollution is a non-issue, granted, the noise from the ships themselves is not too bad (though many is the time I have been woken at 7 a.m. on the weekends by the loudspeakers as have my neighbors and wife). No, the real noise issue is when cruise ship lines contract with helicopter and float planes who fly as much as possible during daylight hours. It used to not be a problem for me and my neighbors. It is now.

I find it irksome that I invite people over for a barbecue and end up yelling just to be heard when four choppers fly over again and again. Sometimes we have to wait for them to pass before resuming conversation. This means noise is not a "non-issue."

I worked for six summers in the tourism industry, selling sweaters in a shop not unlike others downtown. I also drove a bus for Princess Tours one summer. I enjoyed it, enjoyed the tourists (most of them) and the boats and float planes. I don't enjoy them anymore. Nor do my neighbors, nor my relatives who used to love to come and visit. It's too loud.

We have been told too many lies about real, unhealthy pollution in our commercial and sport fishing zones. The air I breathe, tainted by the cruise ships, often stinks.

That's a fact, Jack.

Brett Dillingham


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