Cruise ships plug in to cut pollution

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Cruise ships docking in Vancouver, a popular hub for tourists bound for Alaska, can now plug into the city's electricity grid — cutting their engines and their diesel air emissions.

Port Metro Vancouver, Canada's biggest port, unveiled a shore power facility for cruise ships while in harbor, a first in Canada and only the third of its kind in the world.

Cruise ships can now plug into the electrical grid of the provincial utility, BC Hydro, which says that its mostly hydroelectric-generated power is 90 percent nonpolluting.

"This project will significantly improve local air quality by reducing air emissions from cruise ships in downtown Vancouver throughout the cruise ship season," said Andrew Saxton, a member of Parliament for North Vancouver.

Long-term exposure to diesel engine exhaust likely causes lung cancer in humans and can trigger other lung and respiratory ailments, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Princess Cruises and Holland America Line have outfitted several of their fleet with onboard shore power equipment. Four Princess ships and one Holland America ship will use shore power in Vancouver during the 2009 Alaska season, which runs from May to September.


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