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Greyish haze over Akureyri needs attention

08.08.2022 - 14:18
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 Mynd: Angantýr Ómar - RÚV
The Health Committee of North-East Iceland (Norðurland eystri) has repeatedly requested Akureyri town authorities to invest in a meter to monitor cruise ship emissions. Last week a thick smog laid over the fjord, but there are differences of opinion about how polluting it is. 

Many vessels in Akureyri this summer 

Around 200 cruise ships will dock in Akureyri this summer, bringing over 200 thousand tourists. Usually, more than one ship is anchored in the port at once. A greyish haze appears to hang above parts of the town in certain weather conditions. When there´s no wind, the emissions from the ships can be well seen. 

Ships control their exhaust emissions  

Pétur Ólafsson, the harbour master of Akureyri, has little concern about the situation. “Most ships that come to Iceland are equipped with scrubbers which clear the exhaust by 98 per cent. After that, the only thing that comes out of their exhaust is steam. People may think it’s all pollution, but it’s not,” says Pétur. 
 
Does it mean the haze we see on sunny days hanging over the town is not necessarily harmful? 
 
“It hasn´t been analysed, but they aren´t using the old-fashioned heavy oils in those ships like it used to be.” 

Health Committee wants to install a meter 

The Health Committee of North-East Iceland sent a request to the town authorities and the Port of Akureyri in 2019 to purchase a portable air quality meter. The town did not comply, and the committee repeated the request at this summer's meeting. The director general of the Health Inspectorate, Alfred Schiöth, told the press that the committee's recommendation had encountered deaf ears of the town authorities. They will repeat the request for the meter yet again. 
 
“So far, we haven´t received any answer to our request. Faxaflói harbours have installed measuring instruments and are closely monitoring the pollution in the ports of Reykjavik. We closely watch their measurements because most ships here also dock in the capital."

Will you consider installing the same meters here? 
 
“It´s possible that we will.”