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Cruise ships holding pollution just for the Winter Olympics?

Posted Feb. 2, 2010 / Posted by: KTrout

Cruise ShipThe Port of Vancouver has announced that cruise lines visiting the port during the upcoming Winter Olympics, including Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines, will commit to implementing several environmentally friendly measures to protect the air and waters of the port from pollution. These green measures include: use of lower-sulfur fuel, a ban on the discharge of any waste into the harbor, disposal of sewage and other wastewater to shore-based facilities, and a prohibition on the use of ship board incinerators.

This commendable initiative prompts the obvious question: If cruise ships can undertake these protective measures during the Olympics, why can’t they operate like this all of the time? In 2009, 256 cruise ship calls brought almost 900,000 passengers to Vancouver. Vancouver’s air and waters could significantly benefit from making these environmental policies permanent for all visiting cruise ships.

It is entirely possible that cruise lines will simply revert back to their typical polluting ways when the spotlight recedes from the Olympic games, and expose the initiative as not much more than a public relations stunt. However, with the Olympics serving as a demonstration that these environmentally protective measures are possible, the time is ripe for a green shift in cruise line practices in Vancouver, the whole of North America and worldwide. Hopefully, a new model will take hold – one that serves as a beacon in North America, and the world, for how a port city can truly balance economic and environmental achievement.

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