According to a report released recently, one anchored freighter alone burns 2-3 tons of fuel every single day, and produces about 10 tons of greenhouse gases per day. This idling is unnecessary and could be avoided by better management and logistics at port.
See below: How was this calculated?
See below: Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Ocean Acidification
Large ocean-going ships belong to the worst polluters. Their bunker fuel has been the world's dirtiest diesel. Even with reduced Sulphur content that is now required near ports, it still contains many toxic substances.
Diesel pollution is bad for health. It contains over 40 known cancer-causing organic substances and tiny solid particles in the air (Diesel Particulate Matter, DPM). Diesel exhaust causes eye and respiratory irritation, allergies, asthma, lung cancer, other cancers, and premature death from cardiovascular disease (1400 deaths per year estimated in California).
Even with cleaner maritime diesel imposed in 2020, the shipping industry worldwide will still account for ~250k deaths and ~6.4M childhood asthma cases annually, according to a 2018 report in the scientific journal Nature.
Diesel exhaust is falling on us and on our locally grown foods.
We try to live a healthy lifestyle and try to make our island greener.
But every day of a freighter anchored here not only cancels out many of our efforts, it means living in an industrial environment that can be more contaminated than life in a city.
Bulk carriers around Salt Spring Island are not resting silently when at anchor. Large on-board diesel generators produce massive amounts of greenhouse gases, even if these ships are not moving and their main engine is not turned on.
A report recently submitted to the Salt Spring Island Climate Action Council estimates that one single bulk carrier burns 2.9 tonnes of fuel per day and produces about 10 tonnes of CO2 and other greenhouse gases per day.
ONE single day of ONE bulk carrier idling:
= 10 yrs of recycling by a family of three; or
= Sacrificing one annual return flight Vancouver-London for 10 yrs; or
= Driving an electrical vehicle instead of a standard vehicle for 5 yrs.
(How is this all calculated?)
But climate heating is not the only issue. CO2 and other gases such as NO2 or SO2 are highly reactive when they come in contact with water and they form an acidic solution. In rainy and misty weather the local effect is greatest when the acid rain drops fall right back into the ocean around the ships.
The flow of ocean water is restricted between our islands. For example, what gets into the water of Ganges Harbour is not leaving easily, but often accumulates at the end near Ganges.
There were over 3,000 days of freighters at anchor in the Southern Gulf Islands in 2018. The numbers are on the rise.
What does this mean for our water quality?
Acidification means trouble. Many organisms suffer effects in the changing ocean water. Larvae of oysters, mussels, and clams for example have problems binding calcium to build their growing shells, because more of it will be held tightly by the acid water.
Organisms and populations disappear, food webs collapse, the biodiversity around our island decreases.
We need clean air.
The two anchorages at Captain's Passage just outside Ganges Harbour have to be deactivated again and left as they were before. The prevailing SE winds are driving the diesel exhaust towards Ganges and central Salt Spring Island, the most populated area in the islands.
We also have local winds. First they transport the exhaust up. Sometimes they spread it out along a higher air layer of different temperature. In the evening, the local wind reverses and transports the exhaust down to people again.
Residents in the Beddis area have reported waking up with breathing problems and smelling diesel fumes while ships were anchoring. Will the next anchorages be in your neighbourhood?
Diesel exhaust travels. Although you may not smell it, you may have it in your lungs. The solid fallout from diesel exhaust can be everywhere, including the locally grown food you eat and drink.
Part of these solid particles are carcinogens, and they are fat soluble rather than water soluble. This means they can easily be absorbed by humans. And it also means that they stick to vegetables, and they won't rinse off without effort and soap.
And what about the plans of our island relying more on drinking water collected from rain on our roofs?
Do you wish to keep Salt Spring Island a healthy place?
Next: Water Pollution
See Also: Salt Spring Island - Our Sense of Place at Risk