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LCQ17: Measures to reduce the emissions of ocean-going vessels at berth

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Priscilla Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (January 6):


     Under the Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation (Cap 311AA) (the Regulation), ocean-going vessels (OGVs) must not use non-compliant fuel for combustion purposes for operating any of the specified machinery while berthing in Hong Kong, and compliant fuel means low sulphur marine fuel with sulphur content not exceeding 0.5 per cent by weight, liquefied natural gas or any other fuel approved by the air pollution control authority.  Apart from fuel switching at berth, a switch to use onshore power supply (OPS) may also reduce emissions from OGVs at berth.  Regarding the measures to reduce the emissions of OGVs at berth, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the measures in place to ensure compliance of OGVs with the Regulation; the number of OGV calls in the waters of Hong Kong since the implementation of the Regulation on July 1 last year, and the number of cases in which the authorities instituted prosecutions for breaches of the Regulation;

(2) of the number of cruise calls at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal (KTCT) and the concentration of sulphur dioxide recorded by the air quality monitoring station installed in Kwun Tong, since the implementation of the Regulation; whether the air pollution problem in Kwun Tong district has been alleviated as a result of the implementation of the Regulation; and

(3) as some community and green groups have pointed out that with occupants moving into the residential and commercial buildings in the vicinity of KTCT one after another, more and more members of the public will be affected by the emission of pollutants from the cruises berthing at KTCT, whether the authorities will, in the light of the strong demand of those groups, review the decision made in June last year that the installation of OPS system at KTCT be suspended; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     To improve air quality and reduce emissions of air pollutants from vessels, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has introduced the Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation (Cap 311AA) (the Regulation), which requires ocean-going vessels (OGVs) to use low sulphur fuel while berthing in Hong Kong.  The Regulation came into effect on July 1, 2015.

(1) According to the Marine Department, there were 10 520 OGV calls to Hong Kong during the period from July 1 to November 30, 2015.  To ensure the compliance of the Regulation, staff from the EPD would conduct surprise inspections to OGVs at berth, including inspection of fuel switch records and collection of fuel samples for analysis to determine its sulphur content as necessary. This is in line with the enforcement practices in Europe and the United States.  Up to date, no one has been prosecuted for violating the Regulation.

(2) There were 26 cruise calls at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in the period between July 1 and November 30, 2015.  Monitoring data from the EPD's Kwun Tong general air quality monitoring station show that the average concentration of sulphur dioxide was about eight microgram per cubic metre during the period from July to November 2015, which had been reduced by 20 per cent to 33 per cent as compared with 10 to 12 microgram per cubic metre of sulphur dioxide measured in the same months between 2010 and 2014.  This reflects an improvement in air quality.  The improvement is related to the implementation of the air quality improvement measures and the favourable meteorological conditions for dispersion of air pollutants last year.

(3) Cruises shall comply with the Regulation by using low sulphur fuel while berthing at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal (KTCT).  Compared with the use of heavy fuel oil (with sulphur content as high as 3.5 per cent), cruises using low sulphur fuel can reduce their emissions of sulphur dioxide and respirable suspended particulates by about 60 per cent, which help reduce the impact of their emissions on air quality in the vicinity.

     At present, only about 10 per cent of international cruises are retrofitted with on-shore power supply (OPS).  Most of these OPS-capable cruises operate in routes in North America, rarely plying Asia.  In addition, these OPS-capable cruises adopt different electricity connection systems.  According to the estimate from KTCT operator, there would be 78 cruise calls at KTCT in 2016.  Only eight calls would be made by OPS-capable cruises, accounting for 10 per cent of the total calls scheduled for the year.  Besides, after equipping with a "scrubber", OGVs can run on heavy fuel oil whilst complying with the emission requirement of the Emission Control Areas in North America and Europe.  Thus there is a greater economic incentive for retrofitting with "scrubber" instead of OPS.  Major cruise companies therefore have retrofitted its fleet with "scrubbers" in recent years.  Hence, it is unlikely that OPS will become the mainstream technology among cruise vessels for reducing their emissions in the short-term.  An OPS system at the KTCT, if installed, will be significantly underutilized in the foreseeable future, resulting in inefficient emission reduction.  We would keep in view the international developments on the installation of OPS-capable systems and other emission reduction technologies in cruises.  Where appropriate, we would review again the proposal to provide OPS facilities in KTCT.

Ends/Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:12


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