German cruise line AIDA Cruises has refuted the pollution accusations by environmental association Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) resulting from “undercover” air tests on the passenger deck of AIDAprima, which reportedly unveiled high loads of health-damaging ultra-fine particles in the ambient air.
The cruise company stressed that the presented results of the measurement have no scientific foundation, therefore representing an unacceptable proof.
During a half-hour undercover measurement carried out by ARD consumer magazine “Plusminus”, on an average, the number of health-damaging particles on board the ship stood at 68,000 particles per cubic centimeter, what is about 50 times higher than it was expected in the clean sea air. The measuring device showed up to 500,000 health-damaging particles per cubic centimeter, NABU said.
High levels of emission gasses from AIDAprima prove that AIDA Cruises has not retrofitted its fleet with particulate filters although it promised to do so, according to the association.
“We were not surprised when we saw these new figures. It has been known for years that exhaust gases from ships contain high amounts of toxic air pollutants as these vessels sail on the dirtiest fuels available on the market and lack any filter systems,” Daniel Rieger, NABU’s Transport Policy Officer, pointed out.
“So far we have only been able to document the air pollution of ships on land, next to the cruise terminals for example, but neither we nor independent third-parties were allowed to do it on the ships in order to check the pollution there. This could be explained by the fact that cruise operators may expect dramatic measurement results themselves. Here the question arises if the industry deliberately looks the other way,” Rieger further said.
NABU said that its criticism that cruise ships’ exhaust gasses not only severely damage the environment but also harm human health has been confirmed now. In recent months, the association already conducted a series of air pollution measurements in several port cities and next to cruise ship terminals in Venice, Hamburg, Marseille and Barcelona.
“Shipowners expose their passengers to high loads of health-damaging pollutants. Actually, nobody can call this a fresh sea breeze any longer facing 200 fold higher particle concentrations on deck of a cruise ship,” Leif Miller, NABU’s CEO, said.
“Despite these shocking data major parties of the cruise industry are refusing to switch to cleaner fuels and to install exhaust gas cleaning systems like they are a common standard for all land-based sources for years. Such measures could reduce the massive pollution from cruise ships immediately and therefore limit the impact for humans, the environment and climate significantly,” Miller added.
As explained by the cruise company, AIDA Cruises’ ships comply with all legal requirements and limits. AIDAprima is powered by marine gas oil and can use emission-low LNG in five European ports, which are part of the vessel’s current route, AIDA Cruises said.
World Maritime News Staff