Resisting Cruise Ship Pollution

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The MS Allure of the Seas, the largest passenger ship ever constructed, leaves Marseille. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

We thank Angelique Chrisafis, correspondent for the Guardian, for this reminder of an element tarnishing tourism, which can otherwise often be a force for good. Cruise ship tourism pollutes on a grand scale. This particular machinery demonstrates how parts of the tourism machinery can be a force for dark, very dirty impact. It calls for resistance:

‘I don’t want ships to kill me’: Marseille fights cruise liner pollution

Shipping is estimated to account for 10% of city’s air pollution, and campaigners are targeting cruise industry in particular

From his balcony above Marseille’s port, Jean-Pierre Eyraud has a prime view of the giant, luxury cruise liners that dock in the city bringing 1.5 million passengers a year.

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The Old Port area of Marseille. Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images

But since Eyraud was diagnosed four years ago with throat cancer – a diagnosis several others in his neighbourhood by the port have also had – he watches with a sense of dread as the floating holiday palaces drop off day-trippers.

He and environmental campaigners fear the air pollution caused by cruise ships burning fuel all day at port is choking Marseille’s citizens along the coast.

“The paradox is that in Marseille we love all form of ships – we watch them leave with a kind of longing, they are symbols of freedom with the sea as an infinite expanse,” Eyraud said. “But at the same time, I don’t want ships to kill me.”

Eyraud, 69, who lives above the cruise ship docking area in northern Marseille, is in remission from cancer. His sister, who lived nearby, died of cancer three years ago aged 56. A childhood friend was also diagnosed, as well as her sister.

Eyraud, who began work in a factory aged 15 and later became an artist, has never smoked and was very fit, diving and mountain hiking.

“We’ve noticed that the cancer cases here began emerging in the years after the cruise ship boom, as the ships got bigger and more arrived,” he said. “I’m worried about the ships’ fuel and the air pollution. I used to grow herbs on my balcony but now I’m too scared to eat them.”

Eyraud’s neighbourhood association is campaigning against shipping pollution and warning of the health impact for people living in port areas where cruise ships dock – a growing worry in other destinations such as Venice and Barcelona.

He and other environmentalists in Marseille want to force a move to cleaner energy and to tighten rules on the levels of ultra-fine particles in the air.

Cruise ship engines are kept running all day in port to meet the energy needs of the floating hotels. There has been no study on a link between shipping pollution in Marseille and specific health issues such as cancer. But the Brussels-based Transport and Environment group estimates that about 50,000 people a year in Europe die prematurely because of pollution from the shipping sector as a whole.

“We want everyone to know about this, particularly tourists,” Eyraud said. “And we want them to start asking environmental questions while on board these ships which are meant for pleasure.”…

Read the whole story here.

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