Cruise Ships: When are Maine and Massachusetts going to ban exhaust scrubbers?


When are Maine and Mass going to ban exhaust scrubbers?
Scrubbers Poison Shellfish
Independent Investigative Research

An undue burden is being imposed on the lobster industry by foreign flagged ships that are dumping poisons on our lobsters.

This should be a violation of the Jones Act which is in need of a revision to address the exploding cruise industry. It should be viewed as an undue burden inflicted on a Port of Call by a foreign vessel.

Cruise Ships were not envisioned when this act was written. Cruise ships anchor all day right next to towns with their engines burning lots of fuel, and discharging sewage and graywater up and down the coast, and even while using scrubbers a cruise ship is still legally allowed to emit a deadly cloud of 1000 ppm sulfur dioxide into the air along with all the PAH’s and heavy metals that are normally emitted with that fuel, polluting the Port of Call and the coast with high sulfur fumes in the air while at the same time poisoning the water.

Scrubbers have been banned in a number of countries already including China, United Arab Emirates, Panama, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain, UK, Singapore, and the states of California, Connecticut and Hawaii.

It’s time for Maine and Massachusetts to jump in and protect their golden lobster and shellfish industry.

Cruise ships are not only killing off the Right Whales by running them over at night as they sleep or surface feed up in the Gulf of St Lawrence, they are poisoning the lobsters and all shellfish, which includes copepods, near the bottom of the food chain. They are poisoning our food and the Right Whales food too.

Please take out your devices and check out the latest Google Maps satellite view of Bar Harbor Maine using Safari as your browser. Anchored in Bar Harbor ME is the Royal Caribbean’s mega ship the “Anthem of the Seas”. A small city of 7,000 people burning 500 gallons of fuel per hour. That shipping fuel has 66 times the sulfur as any on-road fuel.

There is a large amount of white cloudy stuff being discharged and dispersed sideways, away from the ship, made possible by opposing the 2 stern thrusters.

It could be two things, graywater or scrubber wash water or both.

That cloudy white stuff has concentrated right against the Breakwater which is a heavily fished lobster hangout.

If they were spraying seawater down their funnel and pumping all that smoke into the fishing grounds, i.e. scrubbing, like 60% of the ships this year have been doing, then those heavy metals and carcinogenic PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)would also be flushed out the bottom of the ship.

According to many sources like the EPA and marine scientists here in Maine, these PAH’s are known to bioaccumulate in shellfish and are carcinogenic and /or mutagenic in mammals including the humans who eat those shellfish.

The EPA maintains some of these metals and chemicals still are exceeding safe limits after being scrubbed and diluted. They will be in the lobster tomalley which is a stomach. They bioaccumulate in clams, oysters and all shellfish.

These ships by law have to dilute these chemicals by flushing them out a pipe with 2 ½ million gallons of sea water a day. In Bar Harbor that would be into a field of thousands of lobster traps and right next to a town where lobstermen stash their lobsters in crates floating full of lobsters ready for market.

The inlet for making all their desalinated fresh water is in the bottom of the ship too. People on that ship drink that water. Cruise ships were not designed to use scrubbers.

Another thing. Why’s any machine allowed so close to a pristine tourist town while legally putting out 40,000 semi trucks worth of Group 1 carcinogenic sulfur dioxide all day into the air, violating the Bar Harbor 5 minute idling code by almost 10 million times over?

60,000 deaths have been attributed to shipping exhaust in and around shipping ports in Europe and 12,000 estimated by the EPA in the USA.

Bar Harbor is perhaps the worst polluted port on the East Coast due to the fact cruise ships run their engines all day emitting high concentrations of sulfur dioxide. People have been affected here according to that data.

You need to run a huge diesel generator to desalinate 150,000 gallons of sea water every day plus supply the electrical needs of a town of 7000 people. It takes 12 MW and that doesn’t count the 10 MW those thrusters could use. It takes about 500 gallons per hour of the dirtiest bottom of the barrel oil to make 12MW.

We get a direct hit with this fumigating plume too often when the once cherished, ocean scented sea breeze cools off Bar Harbor on a hot day. The diesel can be smelled all across town. It happened 3 times in a two week period here in Bar Harbor ME in the fall of 2018.

As asthmatics are particularly sensitive to tiny amounts of diesel they should pay close attention to these cruise ships. Even the little tenders that ferry in and out the passengers put out a blue cloud of smoke right at the dock which sometimes then wafts right up Main St. It might be wise to avoid Bar Harbor if your an asthmatic. It only takes a fraction of 1% sulfur dioxide to kick off an asthmatic attack.

Anyone looking to convene with nature in what was considered a pristine environment is now looking at the Anthem of the Seas crushing nature, despoiling the air and the sea and the view. Poisoned shellfish and dead whales at what cost?

There is good reason why no business brochures, pamphlets or Chamber of Commerce books have pictures of cruise ships in them. However that omission is now highlighted in satellite photos by Google Maps to the whole world.

It used to be, tourists, wouldn’t know about cruise ships until they rounded the bend coming into Bar Harbor and then BANG, humongous 10 to 12 story floating hotels with thousands and thousands of people absconding with an otherwise pristine vista changing the character of the whole area.

And yet another question arises due to the loss of the environmentally conscious tourist. How much are we losing off our bottom line entertaining cruisers? I have two weekly rentals and on just one day, unprompted, both had serious enough complaints that they said they would not come back to Bar Harbor and would not recommend Bar Harbor to anyone. One couple complained of the mob and went and got a cruise ship schedule so they could avoid being in town and spent most of their time elsewhere on MDI. The other couple couldn’t get the photo of Frenchman Bay they wanted from the top of Cadillac.

Many bad comments on Trip Advisor over the past 15 years have disseminated out through the Internet to the world. This has hurt our reputation. We are getting the short end of the stick and are now suffering the loss of our valuable land base customers. We are now branded a cruise ship port of call. We are not the village of Bar Harbor like our welcome sign says. We are only fooling ourselves.

Independent economic studies have verified the fact that cruisers leave only on average $1.17 per passenger in net profits in Bar Harbor while a year round resident owned vacation rental can net a hundred times that. It would only take the loss of two rental days over the course of one season at Bar Harbor’s estimated 1000 vacation rentals to negate any net profits from 200,000 passengers.

So from an environmentally conscious and financially responsible stance, I say the cruise ship industry, CLIA and their gang, should take their business model elsewhere. Preferably 200 miles downwind. Even better run it as a television sitcom called The Love Boat and follow it with Fantasy Island.

Jim O’Connell
40 year resident of Bar Harbor
Studied MPE, Wentworth Institute of Engineering Technology, Boston

Contaminated wastewater from ships harmful to orcas: WWF study – Several jurisdictions have banned open-looped scrubbers on commercial and cruise ships, including California, China, and Malaysia. Canada allows,,,  >click to read<

The economic sham. Cruise ship economic impact overstated>click to read<

Carnival the likely cause of 18+ Right Whale deaths in the Gulf of St Lawrence.>click to read<

4 Responses to Cruise Ships: When are Maine and Massachusetts going to ban exhaust scrubbers?

  1. George Seavey says:

    This article is incorrect and full of miss leading information they do not dump sewerage or gray water up and down the coast and particularly in Bar harbor I personally have taken Dr. Jane Disney out and we have tested them we tried to catch them dumping gray water James O’Connell is against the cruise industry and has been this is one of the most biased one-way articles I’ve ever read when it comes to cruise ships and it’s full of incorrect information all the way through it

    • Whitney says:

      As an 8th generation native of Bar Harbor (and also a former student of Jane Disney), I am very concerned about the impact that the cruise ships are having on Frenchman Bay and the entire coast of Maine. You would have to have a screw loose to not be against the cruise industry- considering their horrendous environmental record. George seems very concerned about protecting the international cruise industry (which evades paying any federal taxes by flying foreign flags- Liberia, Panama, etc)- George please tell us all what you connection is to this industry. Why is it that so many countries have banned scrubbers if they aren’t causing any harm to fisheries? George- don’t you remember when we had a cruise ship that dumped raw sewage right next to the Bar Harbor town pier? Just google it- there are articles on line about it. Did the cruise company report the dumping? Nope. Citizens reported it.

      • Ruth Woodbury says:

        Thank you Katherine Whitney. And Jim O’Connell. This is a very well-researched, factual article; I am a scholar of the subjects myself.
        Not sure what George Seavey’s investment is, but let’s welcome his skepticism, as I have many more examples of cruise ship violations from the coast of Maine & Maritimes to back up this research. Well done, O’Connell. Thanks for publishing this, Fishery Nation! So nice to be in the company of likeminded researchers.

    • Cruise ships, save money storing their raw sewage and dumping it 12 miles out past the mouth of Frenchman Bay. It’s perfectly legal. They can dump treated sewage at 4 miles, but why bother. Why run all that sewage treatment process ?It costs money. Grey water can be legally dumped if a 4 knot current is running to disperse it.
      I’ve talked with Jane Disney at some length over at the Biolab. In order to get inside the security zone around a ship you must give notice before hand. So how where you trying to catch them? They knew you were coming. Also not mentioned here is Dr. Jane Disney does not do air emissions or scrubber washwater testing. She is only testing for biologics. Not PAH’s and heavy metals or stack emissions. These are the things more likely to kill us.
      As far as being against the cruise industry go your right. I’d much rather eat fresh lobster then a souvenir stuffed lobster made in China.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.