Pollution from Cruise ships are a growing problem. New rules can stop pollution cruise ships from entering the fjords in Norway the next years.
Cruise ships and other large marine vessels have diesel engines, big as houses, that are major sources of air pollution. One cruise ship discharges 1/5 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, 1.3 tons of sulfur oxides (the equivalent of a large cement plant), 253 pounds of carbon dioxide, 100 pounds of volatile organic compounds, and 75 pounds of particulate matter.
While in port, the cruise ships spew diesel exhaust by the ton when running on-board air conditioners and refrigerators. An average cruise ship produces as much air pollution as 12,000 or more cars in a single port visit, according to the Monterey Air Pollution Control District.
In some of the small towns along the Norwegian fjords this has been a large problem the last years. According to an article in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten 14.06.2006, results from calculations done by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research show that one of Norway's most popular tourist destinations, Geiranger, often featured in promotional materials, can have air quality that's on par with London or Glasgow.
Some days, when maybe four or five cruise ships have sailed into the narrow Geirangerfjord, the concentration of nitrogen dioxide is at about the same level found in such cities as London, Glasgow, Barcelona, Munich and Oslo. The main reason to this major problem in Norway is that there are many old cruise ships, with engines that operates on heavy oil, that traffics the Norwegian cost and fjords in summertime.
The Norwegian minister of environment, Eirik Solheim calls the new rules " a big victory for Norway, the cost and the environment." The problems with air pollution from cruiseships will be gone before 2020 he claims.
This year as much as 177 cruise ships are expected to Geiranger. The new rules gives the government permission to stop cruise ships that pollutes sailing in Norwegian fjords.
According to Norwegian news today Solheim also predicts the future, saying " These ships will also be stopped in other harbours around the world. In practice this means that such ships will disappear", meaning that old ships that pollutes a lot will have no places to sail.
The new rules are very restrictive when it comes to discharging nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides. When practiced, these rules also will reduce the damages after an eventually disasters, something that people living along the cost appreciates. "We have seen which damages heavy oil from ships can do to the wildlife and beaches here in Norway" a man living almost by the seaside said.
And for those wondering - there are other good reasons to make these new rules - remember that the Norwegian fjords are quite unique. The Geiranger Fjord for instance, tops the list of the 10 best sites in Scandinavia, according to the "Lonely Planet" travel guide. And that, according to "Lonely Planet," includes sites in Finland, Iceland, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands as well. And both the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord have since 2005 been on the United Nations' "World Heritage" list.