San Diego helps cruise ships go green

cruise ships go greenThe Port of San Diego has now joined a small group of ports throughout the world in offering cruise ships the ability to plug in to shoreside electrical power. Environmental groups, strong critics of the cruise industry, like this. The new system lets cruise ships turn off their highly-polluting engines while in port.

Providing up to 12 megawatts of much cleaner grid electricity, enough to power a college campus, the Port of San Diego joins Seattle, Vancouver and San Francisco in reducing emissions from cruise ships, the largest single source of harmful emissions.

Holland America Line’s Oosterdam was the first to plug in to “Shore Power”, a system designed to help cruise ships go green. Initially the system can handle one ship but plans are to take on more in the future. Plugging in keeps over a ton of pollutants out of the air.

Earlier this year, Princess Cruises Island Princess plugged in at the Port of San Francisco to a system that was built as a cooperative effort by the Port of San Francisco, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Environmental Protection Agency, Holland America Line and Princess.

Princess’ shore power program made history debuting in environmentally extra-sensitive Juneau, Alaska in 2001, expanded to Seattle in 2005, and then to Vancouver in 2009. Currently nine of the line’s ships have the capability to “plug in” to a shoreside power source, representing an investment for Princess of nearly $7 million in equipment.

Feds threaten: cruise line pollution must stop

feds threaten cruise linesNew emission rules for cruise ships and other large vessels are set to go into effect in late 2013.

A United Nations plan to control emissions from ships sailing within 200 nautical miles of the U.S. and Canadian coasts initially excluded the U.S, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico which pretty much left the Caribbean wide open for uncontrolled cruise line pollution.

Ships often use lower costing fuels with high sulphur levels outside of U.S. government jurisdiction, changing to cleaner fuels as they approach U.S. ports.

Under the plan, which would now include the U.S Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, ships would be required to use cleaner fuel or install special pollution reducing equipment to reduce air pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that asthma and cancer-causing pollutants could be cut by about 90% in a decade.

Under the plan, which needs approval from the United Nations’ London-based International Maritime Organization, EPA officials could randomly show up at ports to inspect ships and enforcement will be tough. The penalties have not yet been established, but impounding ships has been suggested as one option, said Elias Rodriguez, an EPA spokesperson.

Flickr photo by lecates