Friday, June 12, 2009

Marine gas oil safer for Antarctica

Antarctic waters are largely uncharted, stormy, and there are more hazardous icebergs bobbing around than ever. A bad spill is inevitable sooner or later. But if proposed regulations go into effect, the first bad spill won't be as bad as it might otherwise have been.


. . . . suggested changes to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Marpol) will come into force in mid-2011.

The new rules will mean that cruise ships sailing in the Antarctic will only be able to carry and use marine gas oil, which could cost large-scale cruise operators several million extra pounds per season. Currently, cruise liners use marine gas oil when sailing south of 60 degrees latitude and heavy fuel oils when north of this point. The proposals would mean that cruise liners would be required to use marine gas oil for the whole voyage.

Steve Wellmeier, executive director of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (Iaato), said: ". . . . 'cruise only' type voyages – with no actual landings ashore in Antarctica – are not likely to be able to offer Antarctic cruises once the amendment comes into force."

Tourism to Antarctica began in the Fifties and soared in popularity during the Nineties. In 1991, 4,698 travellers visited the region, rising to 46,069 during the 2007/08 season....

The move has been welcomed by environmental groups.

Better to put these rules into force before there is a major accident that spoils the Antarctic environment. I don't see why people should always have to wait for a spill before doing the right thing.

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