Friday, February 3, 2017

Sulphureous Air

A sensitive soul's nose can always know when some types of people come into the Tavern. There is a feint smell of suphur in the air with some opening of the door. It is different from heroic sweat or the Saint's incense. And so it was when a Gaia-worshipping Greenie lady came by following a bus-load of Cruise ship passengers. We get quite a few such passengers this time of the year when so many ships call into the harbour. And, of course, we have our local greenies.
Photo from the Tavern-Keeper's deck

But it was she who complained about the sulphur.

Not that I was in complete disagreement with her. I even poured a drink for her and let her have her say. Even the cruise ship passengers listened and were informed.

Tasmania's air is remarkable for its cleanliness. It is 'sweet', although I have lived in places where the even sweeter Jasmine scented the evenings. I still get the occasional whiff of that too. I like it that way. The 'standard' for air cleanliness is actually measured from North West Tasmania. We had a couple of chaps in from there too.

Sitting on the edge of the cliffs on the north west coast of Tasmania is the Cape Grim baseline air pollution station, which has been sampling air straight from the Southern Ocean for the past 40 years.
Sam Cleland is the officer in charge of the baseline air pollution station and said that the station has a clear objective.
"The purpose of Cape Grim is to collect a long and very precise data set of the constituents and components that make up the earth's atmosphere," Mr Cleland said.

Paul Fraser is a former scientist with the CSIRO and was at the baseline station before there was a building, but said the air sampling started right away regardless.
"We installed caravans in April of 1976 and that's when we started the measurements," Mr Fraser said.
"It's been good because there are a number of chemicals that we've found in the atmosphere in recent times and we want to know how they got there," Mr Fraser said.
But Rosalie Woodruff had a clue or two and was on a mission to curb the emissions of the cruise ships. She did have some points to make.

Cruise ship industry’s grubby secret
THIS year, 95 cruise ships are booked at Tasmanian ports. It’s a jump of 68 per cent from last year, when 59 ships visited with their 114,000 passengers and 49,000 crew. Those people spent around $30 million in the communities they visited.

This mushrooming cruising industry is grown on our clean green brand. But it hides a dirty secret.
Unregulated cruise ships use a heavy “bunker fuel”. This is the thick sludge from a crude oil barrel after removing petrol, kerosene, diesel and other petroleum products. This waste contains concentrated sulphur, heavy metals and hydrocarbon compounds. It’s a far cheaper alternative to refined fuels, and it saves cruise companies a fortune. 

Bunker fuel isn’t just used by cruise ships out at sea. A berthed cruiser is a floating city, run from the ship’s auxiliary generators that also can use bunker fuel. These power hundreds of rooms, restaurants, pools, theatres and other ship services.
The Carnival Spirit was the first cruise ship to dock in Hobart this season. At 293m long and weighing 88,500 gross tonnes, it would need 150 tonnes of bunker fuel every day. It has 62.3MW of capacity for its on-board electricity network.
Cruise ships berth in central Hobart where many southern Tasmanians live, work and study. A short distance from the dock includes the College of the Arts, Salamanca Place and the Hobart CBD.
In 2012 the World Health Organisation defined “diesel exhaust” as a Class One carcinogen, in a category with asbestos. Bunker fuel typically contains 3500 times more sulphur per litre than the diesel in a motor vehicle. Many cruise ships don’t have particulate filters, now standard on passenger cars and trucks. Large cruise ships emit far more sulphur dioxide than millions of cars.
Many diseases and chronic conditions are connected to pollutants from burning bunker fuel. Tiny airborne particles lodge in lungs and move through to the bloodstream. These can cause heart and lung diseases, cancers and premature death.
The United States and Europe have recognised the high health costs of international shipping and now restrict sulphur levels in cruise ship fuel to below 0.1 per cent. Most of Australia still allows cruise ships to use fuel with 3.5 per cent sulphur — 35 times more.
Fourth Largest in the World.
Photo from my deck too.

When the White Bay cruise ship terminal opened in Sydney in April 2013, Balmain residents were exposed to toxic fumes for eight hours a day, 130 days a year. There was a public outcry. NSW EPA had 300 complaints about the White Bay terminal over the next year. Residents reported headaches, bloodshot eyes, concentration problems, worsened asthma and other breathing difficulties. Young children were worst affected.
Following a NSW parliamentary inquiry, the Port Authority suspended overnight ship berthing at White Bay. NSW state government legislation has required cruise ships berthed at White Bay to use low sulphur fuel (0.1 per cent) since October 2015. The ban was extended across the whole of Sydney Harbour from July last year.
Unfortunately, NSW regulations don’t apply to cruise ships arriving in Hobart. Nor to Spirit of Tasmania ferries, also fuelled by heavy oil, when they berth in Devonport and Melbourne.
We have raised our concerns about the health and climate change effects of high sulphur levels with the Tasmanian EPA.
The EPA has started monitoring cruise ship emissions at the Hobart Port. Despite recognising the problems of high sulphur fuels, the EPA still does not plan to reduce the sulphur cap of 3.5 per cent before 2020. At that time, Australia will be forced to comply with a global sulphur cap of 0.5 per cent per litre.
Infrastructure and Transport Minister Rene Hidding recently said, in relation to the Spirits, the Government would only act in line with the global agreement. In effect, this means waiting until 2020 for a sulphur level that will still be five times higher than Europe, the US and Sydney now allow.
It’s a false choice to pit people’s health against the economic opportunities of an expanding cruise industry. It suggests a lack of confidence in our pulling power. We are well-placed geographically as a cruise ship destination, and have remarkable attractions.
The NSW Government was strong enough to assert the economic benefits from tourism have to be compatible with its main purpose: to protect the health of its citizens. Tasmania should regulate to make sure people who live, work and study near cruise ships are not made sick by them.

I can but only agree. And was pleased to see action taken, although.....
Carnival appeals Pacific Jewel fuel fine
May 19, 2016 
Carnival Australia has rejected an EPA finding that its ship the Pacific Jewel breached new low-sulphur fuel regulations in Sydney Harbour.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) issued Australia’s largest cruise company with a $15,000 fine after a sample of the Pacific Jewel’s fuel when it was berthed at the White Bay Cruise Terminal in February showed sulphur levels nearly three times the limit.
The new regulations require cruise ships berthed in Sydney Harbour to use low-sulphur fuel within one hour of berthing until one hour before departure.
Carnival Australia, which operates P&O, said on Thursday it was appealing the fine on the basis that the EPA failed to take into account available technical information that would have confirmed the ship had completed the changeover to low-sulphur fuel within the prescribed time period.
The cruise company says it took 20 days for the EPA to analyse the Pacific Jewel’s fuel samples.
EPA acting director Metropolitan Greg Sheehy said the EPA had taken a further three samples from the Pacific Jewel since February and all complied.
Mind you, there are cruises for people who want to smell the sulphur. Not on this island of course as we don't have volcanos, just 200,000 cars and busses, and lorries, and an aluminium smelter right next to the harbour. But..... Hawaii does have volcanoes and a great show can be seen there. 

Plenty of sulphur in the air, there.

I gave Rosalie an extra pint.



  1. That was mighty interesting about the sulphur. Those cruise ships still still look way too top heavy for mine.

    1. They are quite wide and flat-bottomed. It is rare for one to topple over.

      And the sulphur, one must undrstand is 'parts per million', and not many parts at that. Nowhere near equal I would think to the paper that Greenies use to write their grant applications upon.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..