When the Carnival Splendor made a Guam stop recently, many of the massive cruise ship’s nearly 3,000 guests had a chance to sightsee on the island for a day.
Besides bringing tourists for a day tour, the cruise ship – nearly three times the size of ships that normally visit Guam – brought with it tons of trash.
And, unlike the tourists, the trash stayed here.
The ship contracted a local solid waste handler to dispose of 120 cubic yards of mixed, non-food solid waste and 3 cubic yards of regulated waste that could contain food waste, Guahan Waste Control said.
Trash is sanitized before disposal
“This waste was steamed and sterilized in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture regulations,” Guahan Waste stated.
According to some commercial haulers, some of the military's ship visits also entail hiring solid waste haulers to bring their trash to the island’s landfill in accordance with environmental regulations.
The Guam Daily Post asked Joint Region Marianas for information on the volume of trash offloaded from ships during recent visits but hadn't received the information as of press time.
GVB aims to develop Guam cruise ship industry
As Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and island senators look to develop a “small-ship cruise industry,” the more ships visit Guam, the more trash will be put in our landfill. The global cruise ship industry served almost 18 million passengers in 2009, and by 2015 that number rose to 23 million, the governor’s July 2019 executive order states.
The executive order says the Guam Visitors Bureau has commissioned a study on a Guam cruise ship industry. It also says the 34th Guam Legislature “found value in investigating the viability of a cruise ship industry on Guam.” Public Law 34-75 tasked GVB to publish a request for information to determine public interest in the development, management and operation of a cruise ship industry on Guam.
Senator concerned about dredging coastal areas
In September, Sen. Kelly Marsh said she was concerned about any proposal that would require dredging of Guam’s coastal areas to create new berthing or docking stations to accommodate cruise ships, as has been proposed from time to time.
But issues such as the impact of trash from cruise ships, or whether Guam's wastewater infrastructure will absorb cruise ship waste, haven’t been widely discussed.
Cruise ships infrequently visit Guam. After the Carnival Splendor’s visit in October, the next cruise ship set to make a Guam stop is the Asuka II on Dec. 30. It carries about 900 passengers.
After the Asuka it will be another two months before Crystal Cruises' Crystal Symphony arrives. It also can carry about 900 passengers.