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The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552
Fax: 604-267-3342
ISSN 1712-3763
Web: www.columbiajournal.ca

This issue:

Public Affairs

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Columbia Journal logoVolume Ten, Number One   January 2005   www.columbiajournal.ca

    New study confirms ships will soon top air polluters in region

    CPP News Service

    A new report on air pollution claims that ships are one of the Lower Mainland’s major emitters of hazardous air pollutants, and by 2010 will supplant cars as the region’s top emitters of toxic sulfur dioxide.

    Environment Canada and the US EPA released the Characterization of the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound Airshed Report earlier this month. The two-year-long study found emissions from marine vessels are a significant contributor to total air emissions in the Basin and will exceed those from automobiles in the Lower Fraser Valley by 2010. Ocean-going vessels emit tons of smog-producing chemicals and other air pollutants each year.

    The report says ocean-going vessels are a significant contributor of emissions of NOx, (nitrous oxides) SO2 (sulfur dioxide) and PM (fine Particulate Matter) in both BC and Washington. Other sources of air emissions from marine vessels include harbour vessels, ferries, fishing vessels and recreational vessels.

    SO2 and NOx are among the dominant pollutants responsible for smog in the region. According to the study, health impacts from airborne pollutants range from eye, nose and throat irritation to decreased lung function and cancer.

    Economic costs include damage to farm crops and vegetation and reduction in visibility caused by the buildup of airborne particles in the air that can have detrimental effects on tourism. For a single extreme visibility event, computer models estimate losses in future tourist revenue to be $7.45 million in Greater Vancouver and $1.32 million in the Fraser Valley.

    ”This report confirms what the GVRD has been telling us for years,” said Society Promoting environmental Conservation coordinator Ivan Bulic. “International foreign-flag ships, most of which burn high-sulfur bunker oil, are the region’s major source of dangerous sulfur emissions. And all the indicators point to an upward trend in pollution from marine sources.”

    The Federal Government regulates marine air pollution under the Canada Shipping Act. According to the Act whenever pollutants, such as smoke, is emitted from a ship contrary to these Regulations, the owner and master of the ship as well as the person directly responsible for the emission of the smoke is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $500.

    Prosecutions of marine air polluters are extremely rare.

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