Ships Exploiting Regulatory Loophole to Emit SO2 Into the Ocean

The Independent newspaper reported yesterday the results on an investigation revealing that “shipping companies have spent billions rigging vessels with ‘cheat devices’ that circumvent new environmental legislation by dumping pollution into the sea instead of the air.”  The devices, called open-loop scrubbers, remove sulfur exhaust air pollution from ships that run on heavy fuel oil.  Air pollution from ships is a significant health problem — some estimate that a cruise ship running on heavy fuel oil emits as much air pollution as a million cars a day.

Why This Matters:  Shifting pollution from one “medium” to another obviously is problematic — it does meet the spirit of the rule and is particularly disturbing given the U.N.’s report last week that ocean health is in dire trouble due to climate change. The sulfur that is diverted from the air into the water around the ships is harmful to oceans and marine life as well as exacerbating carbon dioxide emissions.

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