Report Says Ships Worst Polluters in Transportation

Report Says Ships Worst Polluters in Transportation

A new report slams large ships as the world’s dirtiest transportation source, claiming smog and sulfur emissions are dangerously high across the world's most heavily plied ocean shipping routes as well as in major U.S. port areas such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Baltimore, Port Arthur, and New York.

According to environmental watchdog Bluewater Network, ships employ fuels considered to be the dirtiest available, with sulfur levels up to 5,000 times higher than those from diesel trucks or busses, and contribute to very high levels of sulfur over the world's oceans.

Bluewater Network’s report, “A Stacked Deck: Air Pollution from Ships," also claims the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is too slow in establishing and enforcing emissions regulations for seagoing transport, as it does on land with busses and trucks.

According to Russel Long, executive director of Bluewater Network, a single container ship belches more pollution than 2,000 diesel trucks.

“With the explosion in global trade, 95 percent of which occurs in ships, oceans are beginning to look like freeways," Long said. "It's outrageous that the EPA regulates all other transportation sources but is stacking the deck for ships."

Lawsuit seeks action

Papers filed in February by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund on behalf of the Bluewater Network seek to compel the EPA to create strong emission standards for large sea-going vessels that impose a significant smog burden on U.S. port cities.

According to the EPA, those vessels belch 273 thousand tons per year (748 tons each day) of nitrogen oxides into U.S. air and are one of the largest sources of particulate matter emissions in port cities. The lawsuit challenges EPA's failure to set any standard for NOx emissions.