• Jun 2, 2009
Says James Corbett, professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware: "Ship pollution affects the health of communities in coastal and inland regions around the world, yet pollution from ships remains one of the least regulated parts of our global transportation system." It sounds serious, but how bad could it be? Staggeringly, if a report by the UK's Guardian newspaper is to be believed. According to their story, just one of the world's largest container ships can emit about as much pollution as 50 million cars. Further, the 15 largest ships in the world emit as much nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide as the world's 760 million cars.

The problem isn't necessarily with the ships' 109,000-horsepower engines that endlessly spin away 24 hours a day, 280 days a year. In fact, these powerplants are some of the most fuel efficient units in the world. The real issue lies with the heavy fuel oil the ships run on and the almost complete lack of regulations applied to the giant exhaust stacks of these container ships.

The good news is that pressure is building from various governments around the world, including the United States, which just recently introduced legislation to keep these ships at least 230 miles away from U.S. coastlines. Similar measures are likely to follow in other countries like the United Kingdom.

[Source: guardian.co.uk | Photo: Ra Boe - C.C. 2.0]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 100 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      The comment posted here in response to this article are some of the most incredibly inane and irresponsible posted anyway ! Over 130,000 people in the Northern hemisphere die each year from carcinogens emitted by the world maritime fleet. These are just the easily detected, proven cases. Studies are just beginning on the true effects including damage to the food chain. Chevron (that's right, not some greenie hippy) Oil funded a study that identified a possible 3-4 million cases each year of cancer created by the use of Bunker Oil in shipping. In addition, the pollution created by shipping's use of bunker oil damages the oceans ability to act as a carbon sink. This pollution affect algae, plankton, and the basic's of all maritime life. But Bunker oil doesn't stop there, it causes cancer in animals, and malformations in plant life. Unfortunately, Bunker oil pollution is no respecter of '200 mile limits ' ! pollution can't read ! The sad part is that this fuel is no longer even all that economic. There is no need for nuclear, or similar dramatic solutions. Ships can run on ordinary diesel almost as economically. Shipping should be following the example set by Denmark's Maersk Line.
      Brunis
      • 2 Years Ago
      yeah, keep them away from coastlines, that will help the planet, moron!
      • 5 Years Ago
      If there weren't so may crazy people out there wanting to get their hands on radioactive material, nuclear power would have been an excellent option for transport ships (akin to Naval subs and aircraft carriers).
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a very complex issue.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The solution is clearly a PHEV container ship.

      Come on, I'm sure you could charge it right up over night, right? :) And, hey, it goes the first 4000 nautical miles on electic power. Thereafter a much smaller, more efficient 50,450 hp motor kicks in to charge the batteries.

      Oh, and don't forget brake energy recovery system, that helps too. :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I made a similar joke over on ABG once and none of them got it, one guy even tried to work out the battery size. guess I forgot the smiley :)
      Tyler Harney
      • 2 Years Ago
      Uhhh there are 265 days in a year....
        Klep
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tyler Harney
        Are you making a bad joke or just surprisingly ignorant?
        Luke
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tyler Harney
        Please tell me you're being funny. There are 365.25 days in a year. AND What they're referring to is actual time running. Those engines don't run 24/7/365. They are shut down for maintenance and when in port (generally).
        Brian_E
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tyler Harney
        Speechless....
        Denver
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tyler Harney
        365
        bke599
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tyler Harney
        And 24 minutes in an hour. Duh.
      • 5 Years Ago

      So keeping them 230 miles offshore stops the emissions to the planet how???
      • 5 Years Ago
      Think this is a good first step, adding scrubbers or giant catalytic converters, or traps or who knows what would probably make a huge difference. and once the exhaust is cleaned up on these huge ships, the 230 mile rule would and could be relaxed/eliminated. having a ship switch fuels in order to come into port completely defeats the purpose. I don't think the ships should be banned, lots of smaller ships will still pollute the just the same as a big one if you are transporting the same amount of containers to the same location burning the same fuel.

      Buying everything from China is insane, here is further proof of the damage it does, need a low cost producer... whats wrong with Mexico, train/truck it over the boarder, relatively clean compared to the ships, no longer introducing invasive species into our waterways, and giving Mexicans jobs so they don't have to jump the boarder to clean toilets and flip burgers here. seems like a win win for everyone. people are up in arms that our jobs go to Mexico all the while buying goods produced in China...
      • 5 Years Ago
      So what I'm getting is that we might be over reacting on how much emissions are cars release nowadays?
      diffrunt
      • 2 Years Ago
      If we brought all our "offshorers" back home, we wouldn't need so many sooty freighters. & we wouldn't have so many shipping containers polluting the landscape. amazing that containers are cheap enough to be discarded (for a price) after 1 trip.
      Karl T
      • 2 Years Ago
      This ships are what make me laugh at Prius owners who think their car is doing anything for the environment.... The nickel is minded in Canada... shipped to China. Processed. Manufactured into batteries.. Shipped to Japan... Put into the cars... (Cars which have both a gasoline engine and electrical motor built as part of their manufacturing) And then the cars are put onto another freighter and shipped to the US..... THAT is why a full size, crappy MPG, SUV built in the US will have less of a harmful environmental impact than some ratty little Prius.
        carney373
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Karl T
        You WANT to believe that's true, but facts do not necessarily align with your emotions. The reality is that ocean transport is extremely efficient, which is why it's so cheap. And your analysis carefully ignores what happens after purchase.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The problem is, that it is simply a lie. Today there are very strict norms for ships and you could not go near any coast, if you would not fill them. Of course such ships with thousands of wagons cannot be compared with a single car, but if you use right numbers you will see it is much more effective and ecological to use this ship, then to use equivalent number of tirs for the same distance.

      Of course the most ecological would be to eat the products from the shortest distance, but for this you would have to not have a cheap 16hours/7 days a week working chinese workers
    • Load More Comments