Hamida Kinge was a 2008/09 Environmental Reporting Fellow for the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting and a 2009 Fellow at the Scripps Howard Institute on the Environment. Her interests include the effects of climate change on coastal communities and island nations and the effects of PCBs and DDT contamination on marine mammal health.
Ms. Kinge explains:
Where most cruise ships travel, dirty air follows. They burn a very thick, tarry petroleum sludge called “bunker fuel,” which can be between 1000 to 2000 times dirtier than diesel fuel. Apart from impacts on the natural environment, such as contributing to climate change and acid rain, bunker fuel has been linked to a number of serious cardiovascular problems and premature death in humans. And when the ships dock, their engines often stay running and the emissions directly impact port communities.
The article also refers to the Friends of the Earth "Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card" which I commented on in a previous blog.
From time to time, you will hear about cruise ships "plugging in" when they arrive at port. This means that they are turning off their engines and switching to the dockside electrical system.
Most cruise ships can’t or don’t "plug in." This leads to an environmental disaster, literally on a daily basis, where 5 or 6 cruise ships sit at a port spewing the emissions from the tar-like bunker fuel into the port cities.