The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
New study confirms ships will soon top air polluters
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.