May 8, 2003
In an unfortunate accident, NCL's Norwegian Sun discharged "black water" -- approximately 40 tons of raw sewage, according to media reports -- four miles off the coast of Canada's British Columbia. The incident occurred last Saturday when an engineer opened valves on tanks that he thought contained "gray water" (the discharge from sinks and showers), not knowing that it actually was a "black water" tank. The captain of Norwegian Sun proactively reported the incident to the U.S. Coast Guard. Company policy is that no dumping of "black water" can occur within 12 miles of shore. In a statement, NCL accepts responsibility for the accidental discharge and says: "The company is extremely disappointed over this incident. The protection of the oceans on which NCL makes its living is of paramount importance to the company. NCL internal policies greatly exceed the existing laws and international conventions." The ship was northwest of Port Townsend on its way to Seattle, where Norwegian Sun is home-porting during its season in Alaska. State of Washington Department of Ecology investigators have not yet determined the extent of the damage caused by the discharge.