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  •  In Wastewater Department

    Hello Rockland Sewer Users,

    On October 19, I attended the Environmental Tour hosted by the Norwegian Gem Cruise Ship during their inaugural visit to the Rockland, Maine port. It was a beautiful experience, one which offered me a different perspective of cruise ships. When one thinks of cruise ships the last thing that comes to mind is waste, but waste was indeed the focus of this experience.

    Once on board the ship, we were greeted by Marina our ship guide and coordinator. Our first stop was the Bridge where we met the ship’s Captain; however, most of our time was spent with Rob the Environmental Officer on board. The ship’s environmental department deals with all types of waste, such as emissions, liquid, and solid wastes. Cruise ships and other vessels are required to stay compliant and follow the different environmental regulations each waste stream generates.

    Regarding liquid waste the ship handles gray and black water, among others. The wastewater treatment the Norwegian Gem follows is very similar to the one the Rockland Wastewater Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) follows – an activated-sludge process involving the injection of air into the wastewater enabling the biological breakdown of the organic waste. Once the wastewater goes through the treatment plant and the vessel is four miles from shore the treated wastewater is released into the ocean. We were informed the water going out of the ship was good enough to drink – while I did not taste it, it looked completely clear. As you’d expect oil is largely regulated in land and on water; every drop of oil is accounted for in a vessel and recorded in the Oil Records Book. I was very impressed to witness all they can accomplish within such a small space.

    Regarding solid waste, we covered how the ship deals with glass- the environmental crew uses a crusher in order to minimize the space glass waste takes on ship. Metal cans are separated from aluminum cans. The sorting of cans is important since once the vessel gets to port in New York these are recycled. If there is one metal can mixed-in with the aluminum cans they get paid for the lesser of the two – the metal.  In order to maximize space the cans are also compacted while on the ship. Waste that can be burned off on ship is burned in the incinerator. Moreover, the Norwegian Gems’ solid waste which has been in contact with food can only be disposed of by following USDA protocols. Once in New York a special food waste disposal company takes care of it- this is a similar process followed by the airlines. As for feeding the sharks, food waste is dumped into the ocean once the ship is 14 miles from the coast.

    Overall the Environmental Tour was a fantastic experience. It is very comforting to witness how the Norwegian Gem goes above and beyond in order to stay compliant with so many environmental regulations at all different ports of call.

    Thank you to the Captain and the crew of the Norwegian Gem for such a warm welcome and instructional environmental tour – not to mention the delicious food we got to enjoy! We hope to see the Norwegian Gem come back to our port soon.

    Best regards,

    Yarissa I. Ortiz-Vidal

    Environmental Compliance Manager & WPCF Assistant Director

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