Air Monitoring

Full Steam Ahead To Improved Maritime Air Quality

Sep 02 2020 Read 713 Times

Author: Stephen B. Harrison on behalf of sbh4 GmbH

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For several years, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has stipulated low levels of sulphur emissions close to densely populated coastal areas, such as the Baltic sea and the English Channel. As from the 1st of January 2020, lower sulphur emission levels in the IMO regulations became effective worldwide and the measures to monitor and reduce NOx emissions were also tightened. This will bring marine air pollution control more closely in line with smoke-stack industries such as power plants and refineries where continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) have been used
for decades to measure and mitigate NOx and SO2 emissions.

Death in Venice

In 1929 the Nobel prize for literature was awarded to Thomas Mann. One of his short stories, ‘Death in Venice’ describes the slow but deadly spread of an infectious illness in Venice and the difficulties that policy makers had communicating responsibly without creating panic, whilst considering reasonable restrictions on the movement of people to contain the spread of disease. We might be tempted to draw a parallel to the recent Coronavirus outbreak which has turned millions of lives upside down and has been a major disruption to the luxury cruise industry. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic cruise liners in Venice had a different connotation – they were major air quality pollution sources with their massive diesel engines and huge smokestacks. Imagine if a cement factory set up in your back garden. That might have been how Venice inhabitants reacted when a smoky cruise liner steamed up the grand canal in heart of this historic city.
Since 2015 the Baltic sea, where cities such as Stockholm are also busy ferry ports, and the North Sea, which includes the busy shipping lane of the English Channel and some of Continental Europe’s busiest ports in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg has been a so called ‘Emissions Control Area’. This has meant that the sulphur level in marine fuels has been capped at 0.1% to limit the amount of local SO2 emissions. With the advent of the wider geographic scope of the IMO 2020 marine emissions regulations, many other maritime cities such as Venice will also benefit from air quality improvements.

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