Last year, one ship which was docked at the Maltese harbour was fined for the level of sulphur in its fuel, which was over the limit permitted by law.
This was confirmed by Television Malta with the competent authority, the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA), which is responsible for monitoring air pollution. It said that it does not result that pollution from ships in Malta is higher than other European countries, and pointed out that the biggest pollution problem in Malta comes from cars
The ERA said that the air pollution generated by ships in European ports is the same level as in Malta. An exception is the port of Genoa where there is a lot of activity.
An authority official, Mark Scerri, said that according to the air monitoring station in Msida, the primary emissions from ships contribute to around 5% of the fine dust known as PM2.5, which is much finer than a human hair. “In Europe there is the same range, in other words we are talking about from 4% -15% of PM 2.5 which comes from all forms of shipping, not just cruise liners.”
Mr Scerri said that although this is firm lower than the pollution generated by vehicles, it does not mean one should not pay attention to it.
Speaking about the Birdlife survey which claimed that the air quality at the Grand Harbour contains a high level of pollution from cruise liners, ERA officials explained that in this survey the ultra fine part of this dust was analysed which to date is not regulated by any legislation and not even the World Health Organization has enough information about it.
They said that, as they had explained to Birdlife representatives, the monitoring has to be done on a continuous basis on the fine dust – PM 2.5 – which is regulated by the EU. According to ERA, in the methodology used by Birdlife, this was not done.
The ERA officials said that the monitoring and analysais of air pollution has to be done in a holistic way. “The analysis we do is of every substance which is regulated, irrespective of the source, in other words we do not measure, for example, just air pollution from cars, or which is caused by one industry, but the contribution of pollution of everything in one particular area.”
The emissions from ships and air pollution in our Ports also falls under other entities such as the REWS (Regulator for Energy and Water Services) and Transport Malta.
The REWS is responsible for ensuring that the amount of sulphur in fuels which is used by ships which dock at Maltese Ports are according to law. The REWS told TVM that out of 118 inspections it carried out last year, only one ship was burning fuel with a higher level of sulphur than is permitted by law, and it was fined.