This week, an” independent not for profit news website,” the Dorcet Eye, posted a short video showing a cruise ship docked in the Isle of Portland, in Dorset U.K., belching pollution from its emission stacks. (Portland is just south of the resort of Weymouth, forming the southernmost point of the county of Dorset, England approximately 150 miles southwest of London).

The Dorcet Eye posted the video on its YouTube page, under the title “Cruise liner at Portland Port choking the locals.” The website described the video as follows:

“A cruise liner docked at Portland Port in Dorset spewing fumes across the bay. Why is it not fined? Who is allowing this to happen? Locals reporting feeling nauseous whilst out sailing or windsurfing . . .”

Jim Ace, of the environmental group Stand.Earth and a member of Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN), brought the disturbing video to our attention. It appears that the cruise ship is a MSC Cruises ship, although we were initially uncertain of the name of the cruise ship. MSC Cruises has been heavily promoting cruises around the British Isles aboard the MSCVirtuosa. A review of the ship’s itinerary and news articles confirm that the MSC Virtuosa has called on the port of Portland in the recent past and is scheduled to return to this port in the near future.

We posted the video and a photo of the polluting ship on Twitter and requested an explanation and from MSC and the local port, without success.

The MSC Virtuosa is a new cruise  ship which was delivered from the shipyard to MSC in early February. The MSC cruise ship entered service on May 20th with a series of three and four-night cruises from Southampton, before beginning seven-night cruises around the British Isles on June 12th.  

The MSC Virtuosa is supposedly equipped with an exhaust gas cleaning system (i.e., a scrubber) designed to reduces ship sulfur emissions. This system have been heavily criticized, and appropriately so, as essentially turning air pollution into water pollution. Read Smoke and Mirrors: Cruise Line Scrubbers Turn Air Pollution Into Water Pollution.

BBC News published an article titled Why the cruise industry is still navigating choppy waters which included a photograph (right) of the MSC Virtuosa which shows white smoke from the ship’s stacks, which are characteristic of the operation of the ship’s scrubbers. (You can see this clearly in a photo of the ship’s stacks posted here, here and here on Cruise Capital’s Twitter page).

The video (below) clearly shows a long, black plume billowing from this ship, which raises the obvious questions: Did the ship’s engines malfunction? Were the scrubbers, for what they are worth, operational? Were the scrubbers bypassed for some reason at the port?

Let’s see how MSC publicly responds, if it does.

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Video credit: Dorset Eye