Breaking News

Environmentalists balk at Carnival’s pollution control plan for Charleston, other ports

By David Wren dwren@postandcourier.com

The company that keeps its Sunshine pleasure ship at Union Pier Terminal in downtown Charleston is defending its use of scrubbers to comply with global emissions standards that begin in 2020.

Under the International Maritime Organization mandate, shipping lines will be required to use fuel that contains no more than 0.5% sulfur — or install equipment that reduces sulfur dioxide emissions — starting in January.

The coming demand for low-sulfur fuel — and potential shortages — means it will be more expensive than today’s bunker fuel, which contains 3.5 percent sulfur. Some analysts predict fuel prices will rise by one-third, and the higher costs will be passed throughout the transportation chain.

Some ship operators, Carnival Cruise Line included, have gone a different route by installing pollution-control devices called scrubbers that help filter sulfur dioxide from smokestack emissions so the vessels can use the higher-sulfur fuel yet remain compliant with the new rule.

The scrubbers aren’t cheap — they run as high as $5 million apiece — but Terry Thornton, Carnival’s senior vice president, told The Post and Courier they’re more cost-effective in the long run than buying expensive low-sulfur fuel.

That plan has run into opposition from environmentalists, who have called for a moratorium on scrubbers. They cite evidence in a criminal pollution case against Carnival that showed the devices failed multiple times, leading to significant air pollution.

Such pollution is one reason environmental and historic preservation groups and some Charleston residents are going to court to fight the development of a new cruise passenger terminal at Union Pier. Tommie Robertson told The Post and Courier in June that black smoke from the ship stacks have made her sick while sitting on the porch of her Laurens Street home.

Last month, a webcam operator in the Bahamas posted video of a Carnival ship belching black smoke while docked in Nassau, prompting environmentalists to again call on Carnival to switch to low-sulfur fuel rather than rely on ineffective equipment.

Carnival has responded to the controversy with a new website that argues scrubbers aren’t just the best way to reduce sulfur dioxide but also a host of other airborne pollutants.

Scrubbers “have the proven capability to outperform low-sulfur fuel alternatives,” the website states, adding they provide “overall cleaner air emissions in a way that is safe for ocean environments.”

Thornton said the technology has long been proven in land-based uses, such as reducing pollution at factories.

“The challenge has been fitting it into the space we have on our ships,” he said. “Our existing ships were never designed for the space this technology requires.”

To date, Carnival has invested $500 million in scrubbers and installed more than 220 of them on its fleet. The Sunshine has been operating with scrubbers for months and is “fully compliant,” Thornton said, with the new rules. The same is true for the Ecstasy, which called Charleston its home port until the Sunshine replaced it in May.

“We’ve made tremendous investments in all the technology that’s needed to meet those requirements,” he said of the IMO regulation.

That’s not likely to satisfy environmentalists. In a May 14 letter to the IMO’s secretary general, 10 environmental groups called on the maritime agency to take action.

“As Carnival Corp.’s criminal debacle has shown, (scrubbers) are not the answer to delivering air pollution reductions for the shipping sector,” the groups wrote, asking that scrubbers be banned pending a study in which the IMO “reviews the technology’s marine and air pollution impacts.”

SC Supreme Court Hearing

CHS | The SPA can’t be left unleashed by Jay Williams Jr.

Is the Sunshine drawing rave reviews?  Not from Charleston residents.  
 
This isn’t about the heat; this Sunshine is the third in line of ever-larger Carnival ships to be home-ported here. For one citizen “sucked into the traffic undertow” on the East Side, the 3,000-passenger Sunshine represents a chilling reminder of the negative, largely unregulated repercussions of the SC State Ports Authority’s (SPA) cruise terminal operations in Charleston.  
 
For years, the SPA has run roughshod over residents’ concerns about cruise ship pollution, noise, traffic, congestion, and illegal dumping and environmental impacts. Bringing in a newer, bigger ship that instantly increases traffic, tourists, and congestion makes everything worse—and there’s no end in sight.  These ships will get bigger.  
 
Watch the Supreme Court argument
 
Can neighboring residents rein in the SPA and reduce the harmful effects of the cruise terminal?  The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral argument on this decisive case at 10 a.m., June 11thin Columbia.  If you care about your rights, you need to be there.  The significance of this decision goes well beyond the cruise terminal issue.
 
For eight years the SPA has relentlessly pursued the construction of a new cruise terminal declaring that the existing terminal is inadequate and doesn’t meet Homeland Security requirements.  But to build on the harbor, it needs both federal and state permits.
 
The SPA applied for and received its federal permit.  But six years ago, after opponents filed suit to oppose it, United States District Court Judge Richard Gergel tossed the SPA’s federal permit to build a $35 million terminal at Union Pier and blasted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to adequately review the project’s effects as mandated by Congress. “I think you did an end run,” he told the Army Corps lawyers. “You gave this permit the bum’s rush.
 
“You haven’t done what the law requires you to do by reducing a 108,000 square-foot project to 41-square feet of pilings,” he said.  The federal judge also referenced evidence contained in a 1,200-page filing that the new terminal is being designed for larger ships than now call here, and that the new terminal could more than triple the number of cruise passengers visiting the city.  
 
The Army Corps is expected to render its revised decision later this year.
 
South Carolina has a parallel permitting role.  The SPA got a state permit for a new cruise terminal from DHEC, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control.  Once again, that permit was challenged– this time the result was different.  

Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson III ruled that thecitizens’ group plaintiffs which included environmental, historic preservation, and neighborhood groups, “lacked standing” and couldn’t challenge DHEC’s approval of the permits. The groups appealed, but the SC Court of Appeals sided with Judge Anderson, forcing them to make a final appeal to the SC Supreme Court.
 
Blan Holman, managing attorney in the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Charleston office who represents some of the citizens’ groups said, “On June 11th, the Supreme Court will hold oral argument on whether neighbors have any standing to challenge the lawfulness of permits issued for a new cruise terminal that would be located right next door to them.  Lower courts held that neighbors do not have standing because the injuries are felt by too many people. 
 
“We contend that injury to more than one person does not render a permit unchallengeable.  If anything it should require stricter review. The hearing is open to the public so that those interested can see the wheels of justice in motion. The court won’t rule at the hearing, but will issue an order some number of months down the road.”
 
Many observers suggest that there are broader citizens’ rights issues involved.
 
Attorney Holman agrees, “The issue before the Supreme Court goes to the right of families and property holders across South Carolina to contest unlawful pollution permits. If a person who physically experiences soot pollution first-hand at her home has no standing, then it is hard to imagine who would ever have standing. That should be a concern statewide since it would limit citizens’ rights to contest permits for toxic waste facilities, sewage plants, nuclear sites — you name it.”
 
The cruise industry powerhouse
 
In May, 2015, SPA CEO James Newsome told city council that the “one sector that has not grown at all is the cruise sector” citing similar passenger counts of 186,000 for both 2011 and 2015. “It’s not a growth industry, we’ve said that from the start.” He added, “The market for cruise ships in this port is not that big, it will never be that big.” Later in that speech, Newsome said that, “In 2010 … we had 67 cruise ships.” What he didn’t say was that Charleston would host 93 ships that year—an increase of almost 30-percent.
 
Perhaps CEO Newsome didn’t realize that worldwide cruise industry growth was exploding.  In 1990, four million cruisers set sail, but last year 27.2 million cruised the oceans, and 35-percent of them sail into the Caribbean.  Here in Charleston, we reached the SPA’s “voluntary limit” of 104 ships annually for the third year in a row.   
 
Cruise passenger growth distresses most downtown residents. Although the SPA voluntarily agreed to a limit of 104 ships annually with a maximum of 3,500 passengers per ship, those limits aren’t binding. A much-heralded city ordinance during Mayor Riley’s reign did not codify those limits as many had thought; it merely obligates the SPA notify the city a year in advance if it wants to exceed those “limits.”
 
As they wait for their permits, the SPA has lived up to its “voluntary limits.” But because these limits are not binding, you have to wonder what will happen if the SPA gets the permits necessary to build a new terminal.
 
Since 2011, citizens opposing the Union Pier site have proposed an elementary solution: Locate the new cruise terminal away from historic downtown. Potential sites include the underused 110-acre Veterans Terminal at the old Navy base near highways and able to handle cruise traffic without creating congestion. 
 
But the SPA has repulsed every suggestion to mitigate the negative impacts on Charleston, including moving it, adding shore power, adding a passenger fee to aid the city, developing off-site parking to reduce cruise traffic congestion, and returning some of the world’s most valuable waterfront parking lot to the city for taxable housing and development.  

Carnival is no prize either.  Since 2017, Carnival ships have been on probation by the federal government after the company admitted to “record falsification and numerous instances of prohibited discharge,” including multiple violations in Charleston waters.
 
The SPA can’t be left unleashed.  Residents must have legal rights to protect their health and property, and any cruise terminal permit must include key restrictions to protect our city.   This Supreme Court hearing could not be more important.
#  #  #
CHS | A blog commentary about Charleston.  Please share with friends. Comments are always welcome – please click on the reply button. Comments, if published, will be posted anonymously.  

This column appears as “The Advocate” on page 2 of The Charleston Mercury.

Cruise ship case’ to go before state’s highest court

By Kaitlin Stansell | June 6, 2019 at 10:22 PM EDT – Updated June 6 at 11:32 PM Click to view

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – Attorneys and community members entrenched in a legal dispute over expanding the cruise ship industry in downtown Charleston are gearing up for a hearing before the state supreme court next week.

It’s been called the “cruise ship case” as it’s made its way through the court system, and now it’s getting its day before the state’s highest judges.

Environmental groups and community advocates have challenged the SC Ports Authority and Department of Health and Environmental Control over state-issued pollution permits related to the expansion of the cruise ship terminal in downtown Charleston.

“My primary concern is with air quality,” said Tommie Robertson. She lives off Laurens Street, a neighbor to the current cruise ship pier. “That’s impacted very negatively both by the ship itself, their emissions and also by all the cars that come in. Then, there’s traffic congestion, and then there’s noise pollution.”

However, the argument has moved past environmental concerns. The focus of June 11th’s hearing will be to ask the SC Supreme Court to review and reverse a prior decision by a lower court. The plaintiffs claim the Court of Appeals shut the door on Charlestonians who aimed to appeal state-issued pollution permits for a proposed terminal.

“Do communities, community groups have the ability and the right to protect themselves from pollution, and that’s really what’s at stake,” said Amy Armstrong, the Executive Director and General Counsel for the SC Environmental Law Project. “I think that would, should be concerning to anyone. All citizens of the state of South Carolina because we all want to protect our health, our quality of life, the quality of our environment.”

The state ports authority wants to build a newer and bigger terminal to host larger ships and more of them.

By Kaitlin Stansell | June 6, 2019 at 10:22 PM EDT – Updated June 6 at 11:32 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – Attorneys and community members entrenched in a legal dispute over expanding the cruise ship industry in downtown Charleston are gearing up for a hearing before the state supreme court next week.

It’s been called the “cruise ship case” as it’s made its way through the court system, and now it’s getting its day before the state’s highest judges.

Environmental groups and community advocates have challenged the SC Ports Authority and Department of Health and Environmental Control over state-issued pollution permits related to the expansion of the cruise ship terminal in downtown Charleston.

“My primary concern is with air quality,” said Tommie Robertson. She lives off Laurens Street, a neighbor to the current cruise ship pier. “That’s impacted very negatively both by the ship itself, their emissions and also by all the cars that come in. Then, there’s traffic congestion, and then there’s noise pollution.”

However, the argument has moved past environmental concerns. The focus of June 11th’s hearing will be to ask the SC Supreme Court to review and reverse a prior decision by a lower court. The plaintiffs claim the Court of Appeals shut the door on Charlestonians who aimed to appeal state-issued pollution permits for a proposed terminal.

“Do communities, community groups have the ability and the right to protect themselves from pollution, and that’s really what’s at stake,” said Amy Armstrong, the Executive Director and General Counsel for the SC Environmental Law Project. “I think that would, should be concerning to anyone. All citizens of the state of South Carolina because we all want to protect our health, our quality of life, the quality of our environment.”

The state ports authority wants to build a newer and bigger terminal to host larger ships and more of them.

The debate isn’t against cruise ships though. Instead, it’s a fight to make sure the future of the industry in the Charleston Harbor is environmentally responsible.

“We’re only going to see more and more of this,” said Winslow Hastie with the Historic Charleston Foundation. “These issues aren’t going to go away. Again, I think the residents, the people who live closest to these impacts are the ones most directly affected and so they need to have a voice.”

The case goes before the state’s highest court on June 11th at 10 a.m. in Columbia.

A free round-trip bus ride is being offered to people wanting to join the efforts.

The bus will depart from downtown Charleston around 7:30 a.m. and arrive in Columbia at 10 a.m. Oral arguments are expected to last one to two hours.

You can reserve your seat and get more details at https://p2a.co/xE3IB2w

DHEC said the state agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation, and the state ports authority did not respond for a statement, but a spokesperson said the US Army Corps of Engineers is expected to decide on the federal permit by the end of the year.

Copyright 2019 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Commentary: Charleston residents deserve to be heard on cruise terminal

There is nothing more rewarding — or challenging — than turning a piece of Charleston’s rich history into its future.

I am proud that I was part of transforming the long-dormant Cigar Factory into a vibrant part of our economy. My partners and I hope to have similar success with the Garco Mill in Park Circle and properties in and around the old Navy Yard in North Charleston.

To me there is no big secret when it comes to successful development in Charleston. Whether renovating a historic building or erecting a new one, it is critical to stay true to our region’s charm, character and authenticity. This long-standing commitment by previous generations to the Lowcountry’s style and spirit (with a few exceptions) is why we have evolved into the economic engine we are today.

Since our character is affected by the public and private sectors, we need to take a careful look at the State Ports Authority’s plans to build a larger cruise terminal in the heart of the Historic District.

While I am not opposed to a cruise terminal and I support a healthy port, this conversation is not dissimilar to the deliberations over the hotel boom or the increased port traffic on Long Point Road or the growing pains hitting Mount Pleasant. How much is too much? What adds to our region’s charm and what detracts from it? What is the benefit and what is the harm?

The key difference is that, unlike Charleston’s hotel discussion and Mount Pleasant’s growing pains, the residents and municipalities most affected by our growing port have been told that they will have no voice in the discussion.

As a state representative it concerns me that a state agency and, so far, the lower courts have declared that the people who will be the most affected by port activity will have no standing in any permit review.

These neighbors should have a right to be heard, and the state and the SPA would be smart to listen. Our economy is diverse and has evolved into a fine-tuned machine that gets its power from the simple fact that people love living here. There can and should be a balance because government acting in a vacuum has damaging unintended consequences. And just like the neighbors of any government or private sector facility where a planned expansion will affect how they live and work, they deserve a voice. Government at all levels has a duty to listen to the people it serves and to work in good faith to address their concerns.

What is more, because the Ports Authority is a state agency, municipal leaders can do little to assuage the neighbors’ concerns. That too is wrong. I have been a strong proponent of giving more authority to local government for this exact reason. My experience in the private sector has taught me that local buy-in is what keeps this balance in order and is essential to any project’s long-term success.

When it comes to the cruise terminal, the only assurances locals have is a voluntary agreement that limits the size of ships and the number of visits per year. While I applaud the SPA’s willingness to do this, the reality is it could be canceled at any time with little to no recourse.

The Port and Carnival Cruise Line are clearly committed to making Charleston a cruising destination. And that’s a good thing. The cruise industry is part of the vibrant tourism economy that annually brings in 10 visitors for every one resident.

But tourism and the port are no longer the only drivers of our robust economy, and there needs to be a balance. We need to remember why people love the Lowcountry, and that starts with giving the people who live here a real voice in what goes on in their community. In my professional and political experience, locals usually know best and they always bring value.

William Cogswell is a Republican representing House District 110.

Click to view the article

Italy to Ban Large Cruise Ships from Venice

CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

The known “skyscrapers of the sea” will be banned from Venice’s historic center after the Italian government said that it’s ready to resolve the bitterly divisive issue that provoked an international campaign.

The government is planning to create an alternative route for the massive ships.

Those massive ships has already provoked many environmentalists and residents concerned about its impact on the Venice’s fragile environment.

Cruise ships currently pass within 1,000 feet of Venice’s St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), giving passengers spectacular views.

Last year the port of Venice said that is going to ban liners of more than 96,000 tonnes but the decree was overturned by a regional tribunal.

Recently British stars Sir Michael Caine and Julie Christie joined dozens of celebrities who signed a petition in order to ban the massive cruise ships from Venice.

Now the government has restored the ban which will block all cruise ships exceeding 96,000 tonnes from Saint Mark’s basin and the Giudecca Canal from 2015 and also many visits by smaller ships of no more than 40,000 tonnes.

Give us ‘standing’ on cruise ships

CLICK TO VIEW ARTICLE

When a cruise ship the size of a skyscraper pulls into town and takes on or disgorges some 3,000 passengers, it’s hard to argue that has no effect on the quality of life in Charleston’s historic downtown. Of course it does. But so far, residents have been denied legal “standing” in litigation related to the expansion of the cruise industry.

That could and should change after the South Carolina Supreme Court considers the legal question on June 11. The cruise ship controversy has surfaced again with the recent arrival of the larger Carnival Cruise Line ship Sunshine, now based in Charleston.

The overarching legal question is whether citizens have a right to challenge governmental decisions that affect them. In this discrete case, it’s whether Charlestonians affected by pollution, traffic and other ills related to cruise ships have a legal right to challenge a permit issued by the Department of Health of Environmental Control for a new cruise terminal.

So far, administrative law courts have said “no.” That’s presumably a legally defensible position, but it’s also downright un-American insomuch that it saps the life out of the fundamental constitutional right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

“We will ask the Supreme Court to restore those rights, which are vital to keep the government in check and accountable to citizens across South Carolina,” plaintiffs attorney Blan Holman of Southern Environmental Law Center told The Post and Courier last summer when the high court agreed to hear the case.

Should the court rule in favor of the plaintiffs, the legal tug of war over the permitting of a new cruise terminal would return to an administrative law court where the plaintiffs, including environmental, historic preservation and neighborhood groups, would at least have their concerns heard.

As it is, the Sunshine will continue to use the cruise terminal next to where the new terminal would be built, pending the outcome of the long-running litigation. And the State Ports Authority is sticking to its voluntary cap of 104 port calls per year.

But it’s clear that Charleston is an attractive port of call for the expanding cruise industry, and the Supreme Court decision will be vital to the people of Charleston in balancing their interests against those of the cruise industry, as well as the State Ports Authority and other entities, far into the future.

If the justices are convinced that state law does not give them the option of allowing this case to proceed, they need to make that clear in their ruling so the Legislature can remedy the problem. It is one thing to be knocked down, but it’s an entirely different matter to be ignored and denied legal standing in a case that has everything to do with citizens having a say in how their quality of life is shaped.

Carnival Sunshine’s arrival in Charleston raises concern from residents

CLICK TO VIEW CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A new cruise ship that carries one thousand more passengers per trip than it’s predecessor just moved into Charleston harbor.

The arrival of Carnival Sunshine renews the debate over the cruise industry in the Lowcountry.

Since 2010, Carnival has run the only year-round cruise operation in Charleston. Now, it’s doing even more business here with the introduction of a much bigger ship.

Starting this month, Carnival Sunshine replaces Ecstasy. Its first voyage out of Charleston took place on Saturday.

“Excited, very excited,” says Lee Shanks, a cruise passenger from New York.

“We’re gonna drink a lot of beer, that’s all I know,” said Dustin Holloway, who came from North Carolina to ride the cruise.

Yvonndria Harris and Dee Shelton from Tennessee say they’re excited for their cruise. “We’re really happy today. We’re ready to get going.”

Since 2017, Carnival Ships have been on probation by the federal government, after the company admitted to breaking environmental law.

According to US District Court documents below, a court-appointed monitor found Carnival violated the probation terms with quote “record falsification and numerous instances of prohibited discharge” – that includes multiple violations in Charleston waters.

Originally, Carnival invited ABC News 4 for a tour of the new ship. Two weeks later, they disinvited our reporter, explaining it would be very busy at the pier. Turns out, they were right.

Robin Holley from Myrtle Beach says she is excited about Carnival’s new ship, “we are happy to have the Sunshine here in Charleston.”

But residents who live nearby are not so happy about the larger ship that’s scheduled to sail out of Charleston 40 more times this year.

“Lots of extra traffic flows in for passengers to come and board the ship, and there’s additional pollution from many hundreds of cars coming in,” says local resident Tommie Robertson.

Environmentalists like Caroline Bradner with the SC Coastal Conservation League say cruise ship fuel emissions and waste discharge are a growing concern for the Charleston-area.

“What they’re emitting actually is equivalent to thousands of 18-wheelers, right here in this historic area of the peninsula in Charleston,” Bradner said. “They can discharge untreated grey water, macerated garbage, and sewage three miles from our shore, so just within sight of our harbor.”

Mayor Riley brought Carnival to the Holy City. ABC News 4 asked Mayor Tecklenburg about the Sunshine, who says he’s concerned that the city can’t regulate its cruise ship policies and procedures because the port is a state government entity.

Longtime Charleston City Councilman Mike Seekings is highly critical of the new ship in our port.

“Whenever you add another burden of 1000 cars four times a week, which is exactly what we think this is doing or maybe more, it’s just increasing our congestion,” Seekings says. “And most importantly, it’s increasing the burden on the people who live here in terms of livability, and the people who live here in terms of the cost of running a city.”

Seekings and Mayor Tecklenburg say the state ports authority should require a landing tax on cruise operators to give back to the city.

“Right now, it’s just economically inequitable,” Seekings says. “They’re getting all the benefit, and we in the City of Charleston are accepting all of the burden.”

The ports authority didn’t return our request for comment on a tax, but it did defend Carnival’s new ship in a statement:

Cruise operations are a relatively small but important part of maritime commerce and diversity of the port’s business segments. Carnival’s decision to home-port the Sunshine in Charleston is an affirmation of their success and commitment to operations here.

According to Carnival, cruise industry operators generate $131 million in direct expenditures, and account for nearly 2,400 jobs and $93 million in wages in South Carolina each year.

A lawsuit to block the state ports authority from building a much larger cruise ship terminal at union pier goes to the South Carolina Supreme Court on June 11.

In a statement to ABC News 4, a Carnival spokesman writes:

We worked together with the port of Charleston team for over a year to develop an operating plan in Charleston that would minimize the impact on local infrastructure, and carnival sunshine is equipped with state of the art emission technology that allows the ship to fully comply with all current regulations.

A cruise ship’s emissions are the same as 1 million cars: report

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-wednesday-edition-1.4277147/a-cruise-ship-s-emissions-are-the-same-as-1-million-cars-report-1.4277180

A luxury cruise vacation may sound like a perfect dream holiday, but a German environmental organization says that in terms of environmental impact, the industry is an absolute nightmare.

​Nabu has just released its annual report on cruise ship pollution. It looked at dozens of vessels travelling in Europe, and decided not to recommend any of them. 

Dietmar Oeliger is one of the authors and head of transport policy at Nabu. He spoke with As it Happens host Carol Off from Berlin. Here is part of their conversation. 

Were there really no cruise ships that you looked at that you could recommend?

Unfortunately not. We found out that pollution from the cruise ship industry is still massive, even despite that they claim newer vessels are clean and green. We made measurements at quite a few cruise lines, and it proves that nearly all of them, their attitude to the environment is still poor.

Why are they so bad for the environment?

All of them run on the dirtiest fuel you can imagine. It’s heavy fuel oil, it’s quite toxic. It’s a residual of the petrol industry, and it contains a lot of dirty stuff.

The cruise companies know what they are doing, and they know about the problems. But still, they order new ships and don’t install emission abatement systems.

And on top of that, nearly all of the cruise ships don’t have a catalyst or a particulate filter, [like] trucks and cars. That, altogether, sums up to really poor environmental situations.

The report says that a mid-sized cruise ship can use as much as 150 tonnes of fuel each day, which emits as much particulate as one million cars. Is that right?

That’s correct. And the reason for this is that their engines run 24/7. Even if they’re in the ports, they have to keep running their engines, because it’s not only a transport mode, it’s a hotel facility. They have a spa on board, restaurants … and that needs a lot of energy — more or less the same energy a mid-sized city needs.

What does it mean for those who are actually cruising around on the boats themselves?

Unfortunately, we were not allowed as an organization to have measurements on board. Therefore, we helped two major TV stations from Germany and one from France to go undercover on board and take measurements with our help. It showed that the amount of emissions that passengers breathe on board is more than twenty times higher than on a main road with a lot of pollution. 

You write in the report that the cruise ship companies “show contempt for their customers.” What do you mean by that?

The cruise companies know what they are doing. And they know about the problems that result from their emissions.But, still, they order new ships and don’t install emission abatement systems on their ships. Most of the newest ships, that cost about a billion dollars, they don’t even have an emission abatement system that would cost about a million. I would say this is really irresponsible. 

This is a competitive industry, they’re all cutting costs where they can. So is it really the companies themselves that should be making these changes, or should this be legislated?

Of course, legislation would be the most effective way. But legislation is made by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is located in London. It’s an organization where countries like Liberia, Panama or Greece have a strong position.

And that is because most of the ships are flagged in these states. These countries are very often not interested in environmental regulation and strong enforcement. And that’s why we say we can’t wait for IMO. We have to be much faster. 

Would you recommend to people not to take cruises?

Well, I wouldn’t go on a cruise ship for many reasons. I would not say that people shouldn’t go. If it’s a once-in-a-lifetime dream for them, if they saved a lot of money to do it, that’s fine for me. But if you have the choice to take this or that ship, then take one that is doing quite well in terms of environmental regulation.

Disappointing photos show what Venice looks like in real life, from extreme overcrowding and devastating floods to pollution from cruise ships

by Katie Warren

Venice goes by many nicknames, “The Floating City,” “The City of Bridges,” and “The City of Canals” among them.


Whatever you call it, it’s one of the most popular destinations in Italy, with between 26 million and 30 million people visiting per year.


But despite its beauty, the city suffers from massive overcrowding, devastating floods, and pollution from the massive cruise ships that pass through every day.

While many people may still consider a trip to Venice worthwhile, these disappointing photos show the reality of the less glamorous aspects of the city.

Click to read full story