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Toxic air from cruise ships needs more study: BC environment minister

More air quality testing is needed near Victoria's cruise ship docks, British Columbia Environment Minister Barry Penner said today.

“If you don't measure, it's very hard to manage,” said Penner, who along with environment ministry officials was demonstrating a mobile air-quality monitoring lab outside the Parliament buildings.

The unit has previously been used to study cruise ship emissions at Ogden Point. The Tyee reported in March that a Capital Regional District report said levels of sulphur dioxide gas near the docks often exceeded World Health Organization and provincial guidelines and that the increases appeared to be related to cruise ship visits.

“I believe that data was shared with the CRD and that we're working with them to further identify what the challenges are and what the potential solutions are,” said Penner. “My understanding is that further testing has been deemed to be appropriate and there will be further work done.”

Last week in the legislature Penner introduced four visiting cruise ship industry representatives. They were NorthWest CruiseShip Association president John Hansen, Carnival Corporation vice-president Tom Dow, Royal Caribbean Tours vice-president Andy Nelson and Princess Tours vice-president Bruce Bustamonte.

“They were here meeting with a number of people,” said Penner in an interview. “The cruise ship season starts very soon, so they were making the rounds. I suspect they met with a number of people.”

Penner said they met with him, but declined to say who else they met with or what they discussed. “From time to time people come to meet with me, but I'm not at liberty to disclose those conversations.”

The names of none of the four industry representatives appear in the province's new lobbyists' registry.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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