Carnival Corp. announced Thursday that the cruise company would install $180 million in equipment over the next three years to reduce air pollution from 32 diesel-powered ships.
The largest cruise company in the world reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard that approved the technology already in use in cars and at power plants.
The equipment will reduce sulfur dioxide from exhaust and have filters that also trap soot. In addition to installing the scrubbers, ships will plug into the electrical grid in port rather than idle with diesel-powered engines.
"This is a significant accomplishment as well as an important milestone for our company," Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said.
The company expects to beat international standards in so-called emission control areas along U.S., Canadian and Caribbean coasts once the equipment is installed.
The International Maritime Organization placed a cap on emissions with a goal of preventing tens of thousands of premature deaths and relieving respiratory symptoms for nearly 5 million people.
The vessels to receive the equipment are from Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Cunard. Installation of the equipment is scheduled for nine ships next year, 16 ships in 2015 and seven ships in the first half of 2016.
Carnival has 102 ships and will consider adding equipment to them after the initial 32 are completed.
In a letter confirming the agreement, Coast Guard Capt. J.C. Burton and Christopher Grundler, EPA's director of transportation and air quality, said they must still address details of monitoring and recordkeeping for the improvements to the ships.
By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
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