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‘Thick plumes of smoke’: Locals accuse cruise ship of polluting Hobart waterfront

Pulse Tasmania
Emissions from the Virgin Voyages' "Resilient Lady" ship. Image / Supplied

Plumes resembling thick smoke which fill the Hobart Waterfront every time a certain cruise ship docks in the city are once again causing concerns for locals.

Since its inaugural visit to Tasmania in 2023, Virgin Voyages’ “Resilient Lady” has become a regular topic in community groups on social media.


Many have accused Virgin of polluting the city, but Wes Ford, the Director of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), believes the emissions from the ship are within acceptable limits.

Speaking to ABC Radio Hobart earlier this month, Ford said highly visible emissions tend to amplify public concerns and confirmed the EPA did not believe the ship was a “significant issue”.

Virgin Voyages’ “Resilient Lady” ship appeared extra smokey as it left Hobart on Sunday. Image / Supplied

“That’s one of the challenges we have as part of society. We get fuel emissions from every internal combustion engine, some of which we see and some of which we don’t,” he said.

“When they are more visible then of course people have more concerns about them.”

Environment Protection Authority Director Wes Ford. Image / Pulse

Ford said that while he did not know the exact cause of the emissions, he suggested much of the visible ‘smoke’ was likely steam and exhaust gases, making it appear “worse than that would have necessarily been”.

All cruise ships operating in Australian waters are subject to monitoring under a regulatory system managed by the Commonwealth, which conducts periodic checks to ensure compliance.


“The regulation of ship emissions is done in accordance with international law … it’s beyond our legal jurisdiction in relation to determining whether there should be action under Tasmanian law,” Ford said.

Historically, concerns have centred on the sulphur content in fuel, but Ford highlighted that new international regulations have addressed this issue in recent years.

Emissions from the Virgin Voyages’ “Resilient Lady” ship. Image / Supplied

“The limits of sulphur that are allowed to be used in fuel have been significantly reduced and the requirement to put scrubbing arrangements on those exhaust systems has increased significantly,” he said.

“So we see an exhaust system on a large ship that has a complicated mechanism for taking some of the more nasties out of the exhaust system. That is then discharged into the marine environment 12 nautical miles off the coast.”

The EPA previously operated a monitoring station in Hobart but decommissioned it after finding that cruise ship emissions were “under the daily levels for sulphur dioxide” in the community.

“Our position is that these ships operate within the regulatory system that they are required to and that the Commonwealth regulatory system is in place to ensure that they are not causing significant harm through being in ports like Hobart,” Ford said.

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