New air emission regulations will shortly affect the U.K. shipping industry. Toxic sulfur emissions must be reduced to 0.1 per cent, from a current high of around 4.5 per cent, by January 1, 2015.
The reason for the new regulations is that high sulfur fuel contributes substantially to emphysema, lung disease, congestive heart failure, birth defects, and premature deaths. It is a topic we have written about regularly.
The health risks posed by the cruise industry's use of high sulfur fuels are enormous. I published an article years ago called Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge! which explains how bunker fuel - which is a tar-like substance left as the residue of the refinery process - is the nastiest and most toxic fuel on planet earth. It is unconscionable to burn it.
But bunker fuel is the cornerstone of the shipping industry. Cruise and ferry companies burn it all of the time. Why? Because it is dirt cheap and the shipping industry profit handsomely by using it.
The new air emissions standards will cut into the cruise and ferry lines' profits. The fuel is, of course, more expensive. The public will need to pay higher fares.
The shipping executives are continuing to try and delay the implementation of the new health regulations. We have been writing about the need for new regulations ever since I started this blog five years ago.
Over the years, the cruise industry has done just about everything possible to avoid regulation and continue to burn high sulfur fuel. In the U.S., the industry sued the Environmental Protection Agency to keep burning dirty fuel. It has initiated scare tactics saying that jobs in the maritime sector will be lost and passengers will face astronomical fares.
In the U.K. and Europe, the executives at the major ferry lines - P&O Ferries, DFDS and MyFerryLink - are all facing the same challenge to maintain profits. But their approaches are all different.
According to the Dover Express, P&O claims that the clean fuel costs will now soar to £30 million a year and it has no choice but to stick it to their passengers.
But the Danish ferry operator, DFDS, has invested £80 million in "scrubbers" to improve the air quality of its ship emissions.
P&O on the other hand has joined in a campaign by the UK Chamber of Shipping to scare the public. Helen Deeble, CEO of P&O, joined in an open letter posted in the U.K. Telegraph, claiming that the low sulfur is prohibitively expensive, will lead to pay-offs in the shipping sector, and thousands of more trucks will clog the roads.
Deeble and the U.K. shipping and port CEO's claim that shipping is responsible for 90 per cent of world trade but emits just 2.7 per cent of global CO2. They cite no authority for this claim. it is a bold face lie.
The U.S. EPA has concluded that a single cruise ship will emit the same amount of sulfur dioxide as 13,100,000 (million) cars and as much soot as over 1,000,000 (million) cars.
The new quality regulations will not suddenly cause ferries to be scrapped and the roads in the U.K. to become clogged with lorries spewing smoke and smog over the pastoral landscape of Great Britain. These claims are part of the cruise and ferry companies' scare tactics.
We have seen this irresponsibility from the U.K. ferry operators before. P&O Ferries won't invest a pence into CCTV camera technology even though it has a problem with passengers and crew disappearing from the open decks of its ships. P&O and other U.K. operators have had a long time to implement scrubber technology to protect the health of their passengers and crew and the general public. But they have persistently refused to do so.
Faced with the January 1st deadline, the shipping industry in the U.K. is crying wolf.
Photo Credit: Dover Express