New Report Documents Air Pollution Burden of Big Ships in Coastal Communities

For Immediate Release

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

Janea Scott, (917) 674-0513,
Jennifer Andreassen, (202) 572-3387,

New Report Documents Air Pollution Burden of Big Ships in Coastal Communities

WASHINGTON - A new report released today shows that large ocean-going ships - such as cruise ships and container ships - in
U.S. waters, are big pollution emitters. These large ships release
dangerous diesel pollution that threatens the health of U.S. port
communities, are a major source of urban smog pollution, and are one of
the world's largest emitters of global warming gases. 

report by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), "Floating Smokestacks: A
Call for Action to Clean Up Shipping Pollution," also examines
pollution in the ports of the Lower Mississippi, Seattle/Tacoma, Los
Angeles/Long Beach, New York/New Jersey, Houston/Galveston, and the
Great Lakes. 

report recommends protective policy action at next week's pivotal
meeting of the International Maritime Organization. This international
body will meet to consider standards to significantly reduce pollution
from these large ocean-going ships by requiring cleaner engines,
pollution control technologies and cleaner fuel.

ships are powered by large diesel engines that run on an extremely
dirty grade of fuel, called bunker fuel or residual fuel. It contains
approximately 1,800 times the sulfur content of the U.S. diesel fuel
standards for other major diesel engines.

ocean-going ships are vital for international commerce, but they also
are ‘floating smokestacks' that are big emitters of harmful air
pollution," said Janea Scott, EDF senior attorney. "Next week's
international meeting is critical in cleaning up the pollution from
these big ships and navigating the way to healthier air for the
millions of people who live in coastal communities." 

report analyzed the latest available data from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (2001) and found that large ocean-going ships in the
United States emitted:

  • Approximately
    54,000 tons of particulate matter (PM 2.5), equivalent to the emissions
    from about 117 coal-fired power plants; PM 2.5 is a deadly form of air
    pollution associated with lung disease and other respiratory diseases.
  • Approximately
    745,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx), equivalent to the
    NOx emissions from 94 coal-fired power plants.
  • Nearly
    40% of all sulfur dioxide emitted by the transportation sector; sulfur
    dioxide can transform into harmful fine particles and can also fall
    back to the earth as acid rain.
  • Ocean-going ships are responsible for about 3% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that cause climate change.

Currently, ocean-going vessels are subject only to weak international emissions
standards. The clean air standards that apply to these high-polluting
engines have lagged behind other major source categories in the
transportation sector. Without strong regulations, pollution from these
high-emitting engines will increase.

new report also recommends: 1) Establishing protective limits on
pollution around America's coasts through cleaner fuel standards; 2)
Addressing global warming pollution from ships; and 3) Taking actions
to reduce or eliminate emissions from ships that are near or in ports
by cutting idling emissions when these big ships are at dock.  

Read more about our report here or download the full report.



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