© 2021 WLRN
MIAMI | SOUTH FLORIDA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

At PortMiami, Cruise Ships Spew Pollution Instead Of Plugging Into The Grid. Why?

Cruise ships are docked at PortMiami on Tuesday. The U.S. Coast Guard has been working with cruise companies to bring people off of ships stricken with the coronavirus — but a new bulletin also says foreign-flagged ships should not rely on U.S. help.
Cruise ships are docked at PortMiami on Tuesday. The U.S. Coast Guard has been working with cruise companies to bring people off of ships stricken with the coronavirus — but a new bulletin also says foreign-flagged ships should not rely on U.S. help.

Dark gray clouds of exhaust billowed out of the smokestacks of the Harmony of the Seas cruise ship on a recent Wednesday as the ship restocked and refueled amid an industry-wide quarantine. From a grassy perch in South Pointe Park at the tip of Miami Beach, the fumes contrasted with the cloudless blue sky above and the blue windows of the downtown Miami skyscrapers just beyond.

A single cruise ship docked at PortMiami — the busiest cruise port in the world — spews about 48 metric tons of greenhouse gases into the air during a 10-hour visit — equal to the emissions of about five houses in an entire year, according to EPA data. In a pre-pandemic year, cruise ships at the port emitted as much greenhouse gas as almost 7,000 houses annually — a bigger city than Pinecrest.

The fumes are a byproduct of heavy fuel oil, among the dirtiest fuel sources in the world, used almost exclusively by the shipping industry. Luckily, the dangerous fumes that can cause serious illness are largely blown away by Miami’s famous ocean breezes. But they linger in the atmosphere, contributing to the climate change that is quickening the demise of the port and the city itself. In coming decades, climate change is expected to slosh Miami with several feet of sea rise and a temperature spike.

Read more at our news partner the Miami Herald.