After emissions from ocean vessels went largely unregulated for decades, the EPA and the International Maritime Organization cracked down on the issue in 2010, imposing a new standard that limits sulfur emissions to 0.1 percent by 2016.
Often criticized for its pollution levels, Carnival Corp. — the world’s largest cruise ship company — is the most recent of several shipping companies, including other cruise lines, to reach a tentative agreement with the EPA and Coast Guard to meet the forthcoming standards.
Under the agreement, Carnival will invest $180 million to develop and deploy a new exhaust gas cleaning system on as many as 32 ships over the next three years, totaling about one-third of its fleet. Ships under the Carnival umbrella that will be affected by the changes include ones from Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Princess and Cunard. The company is still deciding which ships will be outfitted with the technology.
These new controls, which are already used in cars and at power plants, combine the use of sulfur oxide scrubbers with diesel particulate filters to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions and trap soot.
The technology will primarily be used in Emission Control Areas (ECAs), which create a 200-mile buffer zone around U.S. and Canadian coasts where ships must reduce harmful air pollution emissions. If the technology successfully reduces emissions, it could be installed on more of the cruise line’s 102-vehicle fleet, Carnival executives told the LA Times.
By 2020, ECA limits will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 320,000 tons, particulate matter emissions by 90,000 tons and sulfur oxide emissions by 920,000 tons, according to the EPA.