White Bay Cruise Terminal Adjournment Speech: Legislative Council 6/05/2014


Delivered in the Legislative Council, May 6, 2014.

The White Bay cruise terminal opened a little over 12 months ago. On 15 April 2013 the P&O cruise liner Pacific Pearl became the first vessel to berth at the new terminal, which is now Sydney's second cruise terminal. I want to bring to members' attention the significant impact that the cruise ship activities are having on the residents living on the south eastern arm of the Balmain peninsula in the suburb of Balmain. I will propose some measures that could be taken by our Government to ameliorate these significant impacts on surrounding residents.

I recently met with a delegation of citizens from that part of the world. The cruise ships that berth at White Bay emit fine particles—PM10 and PM2.5—nitrogen and sulphur dioxide. These pollutants have known adverse health effects in humans. The ships that berth most frequently at White Bay use bunker fuel, which has a very high sulphur content of 3.5 per cent. I note that the European Union has required 0.1 per cent sulphur or less in fuel in ships at berth from 1 January 2010. The ships that berth at White Bay use fuel with a sulphur level 35 times greater than that. The United States requires ships to switch to fuel with a sulphur rate of 0.1 per cent within 200 kilometres of its coast.

The ship that most frequently visits White Bay, the Pacific Jewel, has 1,068 passenger rooms and weighs in at the equivalent of 125 A380 aircraft. When it is at berth for nine hours it emits sulphur dioxide equivalent to that coming from 28.5 million diesel-fuelled cars. Allowing for the provision of shore power was mandated in the 2011 project approval for the White Bay cruise terminal. Shore power, also known as "cold ironing", involves switching off auxiliary engines while at berth and supplying ships with electricity from shore. The use of shore power would avoid extremely large emissions of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide and air particles. It would also have the significant added benefit of protecting nearby residents from the noise of the generators.

The two steps that I have outlined—mandating a lower sulphur content in ship fuel and the use of shore power—would go a long way towards improving the lives of the people living on the south-east arm of the Balmain peninsula and cheek by jowl with Sydney's second cruise terminal. I am an optimist. I believe that it is possible for industrial and residential neighbourhoods to coexist. Sydney wants to continue to attract the shipping industry and it should be possible for the Government to take steps to regulate the activities of ships berthing at White Bay in the interests of nearby residents.

In addition to the two major steps that I have advocated, I believe that other steps must be considered by the Government, including air filtration, noise minimisation, and regulation of ship arrival and departure times to minimise community disturbance. I intend to continue to advocate in the coming months on behalf of the residents of Balmain living close to the White Bay cruise terminal, who I believe are suffering unreasonably from the impact of the ships visiting that terminal.