Emissions from a single cruise ship visit in Wellington are the equivalent to over 200,000 extra cars per day, according to air quality and greenhouse gas emissions expert Dr Gerda Kuschel, Director of Emission Impossible Ltd. Dr Kuschel’s calculation, based on other research, found that’s nearly more emissions than all of Wellington’s cars in one day.
University of Otago Senior lecturer Dr Daniel Kingston, who studies hydroclimatology and large-scale climate variation, said “The type of fuel their diesel engines use typically results in higher amount of various pollutant gases and ultra-fine particle emissions compared to car engines. Cruise ships are also a source of greenhouse gases.”
Emission Impossible Ltd’s air quality expert Louise Wickham said the health effects depended on emissions exposure. Wickham provided the example of a plume trapped under an inversion layer on a cold still morning, which may drift towards an apartment block. “If there wasn’t enough distance for the plume to disperse, the people could be exposed to elevated levels of pollutants from the combustion of heavy fuel oil.”
PM10 – which is carcinogenic, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide were all part of the picture, she said. Only Auckland Council has reviewed the air emissions from cruise ships.
A Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) spokesman said it had received no complaints regarding air pollution or water pollution caused by cruise ships. The organisation did have concerns about air pollution, whatever the source, which was why they measured air quality on land. “However, under the RMA we are excluded from regulating emissions from vessels, which is why we do not focus on marine emissions.”
GWRC had no current plans for research, but would consider being part of any national approach developed to monitor the impact of ship/port emissions on air quality, particularly as they may affect surrounding land.
Shipping has been highlighted by the Ministry for the Environment as an emerging issue.
Dr Bevan Marten from Victoria University’s School of Law said New Zealand had no regulation on air quality from ships. “The old view was that we were too small to do anything, didn’t have any pollution and other countries would take care of it.”
New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive officer Kevin O’Sullivan said he was not aware of any research on cruise ship emissions. “We don’t have the ability to work on these sort of matters, we just listen to what’s going on. We work as a link between the Government and the cruise lines.”
Wellington Harbourmaster Grant Nalder said he didn’t believe cruise ships were any different to any other large ship. “A ship’s engine is a ship’s engine, regardless of what you’re pushing around with it.” Nalder said he was not aware of any research on the emissions in Wellington harbour.
Wreda Regional Development, Destination and Attraction General Manager David Perks said the impact of Wellington’s cruise ship industry was continuing to grow.
The 110 ships coming to Wellington was up 82 from last year. In 2007-2008 just 38 cruise ships came to Wellington. “The regional economy is set to benefit by an estimated $56 million as more than 320,000 passenger and crew arrive over the seven-month cruise season,” Perks said.
“Behind those figures lies the fact that the cruise industry supports Wellington businesses and creates jobs particularly in the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors.”
[Source: Stuff.co.nz, 16th November 2018]