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February 9, 2012

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Lisa Gardiner (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who authored the California law prohibiting coastal dumping by cruise ships and other oceangoing vessels, praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its announcement today that it is finalizing a rule to ban all sewage discharge from large ships in state waters along the California coast.

Pursuant to Simitian’s legislation, today’s federal action establishes the largest coastal ‘No Discharge Zone’ in the nation, stretching along California’s 1,624-mile coastline.

“This is a great day for the California coast, which is far too precious a resource to be used as a dumping ground,” said Simitian, whose anti-dumping law petitioned the federal government for EPA authorization, leading to today’s announcement by the EPA. “This ‘No Discharge Zone’ – the largest in the nation – protects our coastal economy, our environment and our public health.”

Today’s federal action comes as a result of Simitian’s Senate Bill 771, the Clean Coast Act. Enacted into law in 2005, it prohibits all commercial ships from dumping hazardous waste, sewage sludge, oily bilge water, “gray water” from sinks and showers, and sewage in state waters. Senate Bill 771 also required California to petition the federal government for a “No Discharge Zone” to enforce the bill’s anti-dumping provisions, ultimately leading to today’s action by the federal government. For more information about the EPA’s action, go to

Cruise ships visit state waters hundreds of times a year and oceangoing cargo ships make thousands of calls. 

As a State Legislator, Simitian has authored statutes, dating back to 2003, to protect the shoreline and state waters, which extend three miles from the coast. In addition to prohibiting dumping of various wastes, legislation authored by Simitian bans onboard incineration, forbids the release of ballast water that could contain harmful invasive species, and requires tighter oil spill prevention and response procedures.

Summary of Simitian ocean-related legislation.

AB 121, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2003, prohibits owners or operators of large passenger vessels from releasing sewage sludge and oily bilge water into state marine waters and marine sanctuaries under certain conditions.

AB 471, Chapter 706, Statutes of 2004, prohibits cruise ship onboard incineration within three miles of the California coast.

AB 2672, Chapter 764, Statutes of 2004, prohibits a large passenger vessel owner or operator from releasing sewage into state marine waters if certain conditions are met.

SB 771, Chapter 588, Statutes of 2005, enacts the California Clean Coast Act that consolidates various vessel related provisions under the Act, applies the requirements to oceangoing ships with certain conditions and reporting requirements, and makes various other related amendments.

SB 497, Chapter 292, Statutes of 2006, creates standards for the discharge of ballast water, to prevent invasions of non-native species. 

SB 1739, Chapter 566, Statutes of 2008, revises various oil spill prevention and response requirements.

SB 614, Chapter 194, Statutes of 2009, clarifies certain issues relating to oceangoing vessels and extends the January 1, 2010, sunset to January 1, 2014, on certain provisions of the Clean Coast Act.