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French prosecutor demands hefty fine for cruise ship pollution

AFP  |  Marseille 

French prosecutors called for a 100,000-euro fine against a US and the vessel's owners for having deliberately flouted European limits.

The company "...wanted to save money at the expense of everyone's lungs, in the context of major air pollution, caused partly by cruise ships," told the court in

A spot check of The in March found it was burning bunker fuel containing 1.68 per cent sulphur, above the 1.5-per cent European limit.

The ship's captain, Evans Hoyt, knew perfectly well that the fuel he had filled up with in was illegal, said the

Owners had simply not wanted to respect the law, and they should pay 80,000 euros (USD 92,000) of the fine, said the

argued that the strictest laws on pollution were reserved for passenger ships using a regular route and so did not apply to the

The court will delivers its verdict on November 26.

The captain, 58-year-old Hoyt, was not in court. According to prosecutors in Marseille, this is the first time a ship's has been prosecuted for pollution on coast.

The Azura, capable of carrying more than 3,000 passengers, is one of the largest in the fleet operated by P&O Cruises, which is owned by

The port city is grappling with the polluting effect of its drive to increase boat tourism.

The city has wrestled with increased smog in recent years, as it seeks to attract more lucrative cruise tourism.

Authorities say shipping could be responsible for 10 to 20 per cent of the damaging particulate matter in Marseille's air, which can cause respiratory problems and lung disease.

High-sulphur fuel, which is cheaper than cleaner versions, produces sulphur oxides which contribute to acid rain and the acidification of oceans.

Environmental campaigners say shipping is particularly harmful in Marseille, with fine particle levels 100 times higher near the city's bustling port than elsewhere in the city.

Even when docked; a single emits as much pollution as 10,000 to 30,000 cars, according to AirPaca, the regional monitoring agency.

The UN's has been lowering the allowed sulphur levels in ships for years, with a new limit of 0.5 per cent coming into force in 2020.

But the NGO Nature Environnement, one of the plaintiffs on the civil side of this case, says the new maximum is still too high.

It cites a 0.1 per cent sulphur limit enforced in the and other designated Sulphur Emission Control Areas, including the and along coastlines in and the

registered 1.55 million visitors last year, and officials hope it will surpass the numbers in this year to become the fourth-largest port of call for cruise ships in the

The city is aiming for two million cruise line tourists in 2020.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, October 09 2018. 00:55 IST