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SeaWorld pollution allegations surface
Two-year-old complaints made public

11th April 2004

SeaWorld is being accused of polluting Mission Bay.

Alleged Clean Water Act violations from two and four years ago are just now being made public in a complaint to the Regional Water Quality Board.

SeaWorld has a squeaky clean reputation as a fun and educational attraction for families.

But, according to the complaint filed with the board, SeaWorld is a chronic polluter.

The document describes eight consecutive violations of SeaWorld's water quality permit over six months in 2000 and more violations in 2002.

"The bottom line is that it's adding pollution back into Mission Bay, a water body that doesn't meet the basic standards of the Clean Water Act, and I want that water body cleaned up," said Donna Frye, District 6 Council Member.

Mission Bay is already on California's list of impaired water bodies, because it does not meet standards set by the Clean Water Act.

SeaWorld is the largest discharger of water into Mission Bay at about 3 million gallons per day. The pollution the theme park is accused of causing is the same pollution affecting Mission Bay's poor quality listing -- faecal coliform.

SeaWorld says it has had a clean record for the past two years.

"Since the two violations in 2002, we have not exceeded the limit since then," said SeaWorld engineer Pat Owen.

Owen says the park has put more than $1.25 million in upgrades in its filtration system since 2000, and he says parent company Annhueser-Busch wants to be a good steward of the environment in Mission Bay.

SeaWorld renews its permit next year, and the company could be forced to follow even stricter water quality standards or upgrade its treatment facilities.

A public hearing regarding the pollution complaint is scheduled to be held before the Regional Water Quality Board in June.