This past week, I received information from a reader of Cruise Law News who lives in Bergen Norway. He explained that the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) is using drones equipped with measuring instruments to test sulphur levels in ship emissions.

There is an article in the Maritime Authority’s latest publication, Navigare, regarding this issue. Translated, the article states “. . . a drone with measuring instruments was operated from the bridge of the Coast Guard vessel KV Tor. In the course of a week or so at the beginning of June, the drone was manoeuvred into exhaust discharge from several ships in the area and details of sulphur content immediately appeared on a data screen on board the Coast Guard vessel. The highest concentration was measured on the Portuguese flagged cruise ship Astoria as it was entering the harbour of Bergen.”

The NMA states that it is using the drone technology to hunt “sulphur sinners.”

The drones are owned by the Norwegian Coast Guard whereas the detectors are owned by the NMA.

An article in Bunkerspot which was published today states that the Norwegian Maritime Authority has carried out 205 inspections to check sulphur content in emissions from ships. Five violations were uncovered the ships received penalties of between $30,500 and $73,000.

As the IMO .5% sulphur limitation comes into effect in 2020, there will be an increasing number of cruise ships which violate the international restrictions on the amount of sulphur in fuel as well as the emission standards in states such as Alaska.

Today, I received a photograph (at top of this article) taken by a crew member which shows the exhaust plumes from the Norwegian Jewel and the Radiance of the Seas (as well as the Explorer of the Seas, obscured) in Skagway, Alaska. These cruise ships utilize scrubbers, rather than switching to cleaner but more expensive low-sulphur fuel. As you can see, the steam ends and the blue shaded exhaust emissions, which contain solid particulate matter, is evident. Alaska uses a subjective opaqueness test which is subject to a wide variety of non-objective interpretations. Cruise ship supporters often falsely claim that the cruise ship emissions are just steam from the ship’s stacks as opposed to harmful non-combustible particulate matter. Drones with sulphur detection systems will go a long way to objectively collect data in order to hold cruise ships accountable for violating air pollution laws and regulations.

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 P&O Ferries 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

U.K. ‘s Mail Online has an informative article in its Sunday edition today addressing the use of bunker fuels by cruise ships and other large shipping vessels entitled "How 16 Ships Create As Much Pollution As All The Cars In The World."

Cruise Pollution - Nasty Deadly Bunker FuelI wrote about the cruise industry’s use of bunker fuels in a blog entitled ‘Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel – "Thick, Tarry Sludge."  So this is of particular interest to me.

The article is written by an award winning science writer Fred Pearce.  He describes the disgusting practice of these ships using this filthy and deadly fuel:

"We’ve all noticed it. The filthy black smoke kicked out by funnels on cross-channel ferries, cruise liners, container ships, oil tankers and even tugboats . . .

As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.

Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as Cruise Ships - Filthy Smoke - Bunker Fuelmuch fuel as small power stations.

But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use." 

The article addresses the disastrous effects on the environment and the deadly effects on those who breath the lethal smoke.

Mr. Pearce explain that ships are using fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulphur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in Europe.  The largest ships are emitted as much as 5,000 tons of sulphur a year – the same as 50,000,000 cars, each releasing an average of only 100 grams of sulphur a year.

The sulphur comes out of ship funnels as tiny particles which get deep into lungs. The inhaled sulphur causes inflammation of the linings of the lungs, breathing problems, heart disease and cancer.  The major shipping routes of cargo ships and cruise ships bring these deadly emissions right into the port and seaboard cities.  

 

Cuise Ship Bunker Fuel - Pollution

 

Mr. Pearce ends with an ominous conclusion:

"However you look at it, the super-ships are rogues on the high seas, operating under pollution standards long since banished on land; warming the planet and killing its inhabitants."

There are a number of organizations which are trying to address these types of problems.  One is Friends of the Earth whose Twitter name is @foe_us.

 

Credits:

Chart         Fred Pearce (via U.K. ‘s Mail Online)