California sewage ban creates largest coastal no-discharge zone in US

A state proposal has been approved in the US to ban all sewage discharges from large cruise ships and most other large ocean-going ships to state marine waters along California's 1,624 mile coast from Mexico to Oregon and surrounding major islands. The action establishes a new federal regulation banning even treated sewage from being discharged in California's marine waters.

This action strengthens protection of California's coastal waters from the adverse effects of sewage discharges from a growing number of large vessels. Several dozen cruise ships make multiple California port calls each year while nearly 2,000 cargo ships made over 9,000 California port calls in 2010 alone. EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] estimates that the rule will prohibit the discharge of over 22 million of the 25 million gallons of treated vessel sewage generated by large vessels in California marine waters each year, which could greatly reduce the contribution of pollutants still found in treated vessel sewage.

Under the Clean Water Act, states may request EPA to establish vessel sewage no-discharge zones if necessary to protect and restore water quality. In 2006, following passage of three state statutes designed to reduce the effects of vessel discharges to its waters, the State of California asked EPA to establish the sewage discharge ban. After releasing the proposed rule in 2010, EPA considered some 2,000 comment letters from members of the public, environmental groups, and the shipping industry before finalizing the regulation.

In contrast to prior no-discharge zones under the Clean Water Act, which apply in very small areas, the new ban applies to all coastal waters out to three miles from the coastline and all bays and estuaries subject to tidal influence. Other California no discharge zones for ten bays and marinas remain in effect for all vessels.

Consistent with the State's request, the prohibition applies to all passenger ships larger than 300 tons and to all other oceangoing vessels larger than 300 tons with sewage holding tank capacity. In addition to today's discharge prohibition, other vessel sewage discharges will continue to be regulated under existing Clean Water Act requirements, which generally require sewage to be treated by approved marine sanitation devices prior to discharge.


Mine effluent treatment plant project awarded to Veolia

The contract for the design and supply of a 1000 m3/day mining effluent treatment plant to serve Trevali Mining Corporation's Halfmile Zinc-Lead-Silver-Copper Mine in New Brunswick has been awarded to Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies Canada.

The new zinc-lead-silver-copper mine is situated 60 km south of Bathurst and commenced production in January 2012. The scope of the design-build project includes the entire mining effluent treatment plant as well as the construction of the building.

Treatment will include precipitation, decantation and filtration -- plus, pH correction to provide a treated mine effluent that meets the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life.

The plant is currently in the final construction phase. Trevali has been constructing the Halfmile project civil works since March 2011 and commenced production of the water treatment plant in January 2012, with a planned production ramp-up to a rate of 2,000-tons-per-day.

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