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Cruise Ship Air

How do I report a cruise ship air complaint?

Please call or email the Cruise Ship program. Let us know the date, time, ship name, your location, whether the sun is behind you, and any pertinent atmospheric information (i.e. hazy, windy, overcast, raining, etc.) The information that you provide may assist us in compliance and enforcement actions. If you would like us to follow up with you, provide your contact information.
Program contact:
Denise Wiltse, Environmental Program Specialist III
907-465-5278
Email Address:  denise.wiltse@alaska.gov

Does DEC monitor air emissions from cruise ships?

The program regularly monitors air emissions from cruise ships and ferries. A contractor has conducts opacity readings on large cruise ships in Alaskan ports. In addition, DEC staff respond to public complaints.

Method used to monitor cruise ship air emissions?

EPA Method 9 is used to monitor cruise ships and ferries. Visible emissions readers (smoke readers) are trained and certified using a standardized national method. An opacity reading is a visual measurement of the amount of light blocked by air emissions from a combustion source. The method requires readers to visually differentiate the opacity of the emissions. It is critical that the sun is behind the reader in order to reduce light scattering that makes the plume appear darker.

Monitoring in Tracy Arm or in National Parks?

DEC and the USDA Forest Service have partnered to share information on cruise ship visible emissions in Tracy Arm. Forest Service Rangers are certified in EPA Method 9 and conduct readings, which DEC may use for enforcement. In Glacier Bay, Park Service employees conduct visible emissions monitoring on cruise ships.

DEC assisted with an 2008 Emissions Inventory for Skagway (PDF) that was completed in 2010.

What limits apply to cruise ship air emissions?

 All marine vessels including cruise ships and ferries must comply with Alaska’s marine vessel emission standard (listed in 18 ACC 50.070). The standard requires visible emissions (opacity) from vessel smoke stacks be no greater than 20% opacity, with limited time exemptions while maneuvering and in port.

18 AAC 50.070 Marine vessel visible emission standards.

Within three miles of the Alaska coastline, visible emissions, excluding condensed water vapor, may not reduce visibility through the exhaust effluent of a marine vessel by more than 20 percent except as follows

  1. while at berth or at anchor, visibility may be reduced by up to 100 percent for periods aggregating no more than
    • three minutes in any one hour; and
    • an additional three minutes during initial startup of a vessel; for purposes of this subparagraph, "initial startup" includes the period during which a vessel is testing equipment in preparation to casting off or weighing anchor;
  2. during the hour immediately after weighing anchor or casting off, visibility may be reduced under one, but not both, of the following options:
    • visibility may be reduced by up to 40 percent for that entire hour; or
    • visibility may be reduced by up to 100 percent for periods aggregating no more than nine minutes during that hour;
  3. during the hour immediately before the completion of all maneuvers to anchor or make fast to the shore, visibility may be reduced under one, but not both, of the following options:
    • visibility may be reduced by up to 40 percent for that entire hour; or
    • visibility may be reduced by up to 100 percent for periods aggregating no more than nine minutes during that hour; and
  4. at any time not covered by (1) - (3) of this section, visibility may be reduced by up to 100 percent for periods aggregating no more than three minutes in any one hour.

Air Quality Monitoring

Ambient air was monitored in downtown Juneau for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates (PM 2.5) during 2000 and 2001. The pollutant levels were found to be below federal and state health based standards. See the Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative 2000 Season: Part 2 Final Report (PDF)for more information. Division of Air Monitoring Data