The NSW government has launched a public inquiry into Sydney’s second cruise terminal, White Bay after complaints of air and noise pollution.
The Upper House inquiry comes seven months after the port – located 10 minutes outside the CBD and close to Inner West suburbs – started receiving cruise ships like P&O’s Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel as well as Princess ships Dawn Princess and Sea Princess.
According to the Daily Telegraph, currently the cruise industry is not covered under the Environmental Protection Act – a regulation that prevents vessels from pumping toxic emissions into the air in densely-population areas.
And because White Bay wasn’t fitted with shoreside power, ships are required to keep their fuel power operating throughout the night.
Several public meetings have been held over the terminal, with many locals saying they’ve been exposed to dangerous levels of pollution from ships that leave their engines operating overnight.
Balmain state Greens MP Jamie Parker said the inquiry is an opportunity for a new air plan with high standards currently being met by other countries.
“We’re getting the dirtiest vessels coming to Australia because we don’t have controls,” he said.
Meanwhile, Balmain’s Labor candidate Verity Firth said locals deserve cleaner air.
Sydney Ports Corporation said it was committed to testing air emissions and respond accordingly.
“Our primary message is that we are taking this very seriously and we want to be proactive about this. We have a requirement to do this sensibly … we are trying to establish what is really going on here,” the organisation’s chief executive Grant Gilfillan said.
“If the emissions are found to be harmful then we would have the ammunition to drive for change. Sydney Ports is ready to do whatever is required if the concerns are validated. We are not running and hiding from it.”
The inquiry could take up to three months before findings are released.