Sunday morning dawned clear and windless. A perfect day in Juneau. Enter the Radiance of the Sea, a cruise ship with a passenger capacity of 3,000.
The Radiance of the Sea tied up in downtown Juneau around 8:30 a.m. and commenced emitting a stunning amount of blue smoke that obliterated the middle part of Mount Juneau from my perspective in West Juneau. The Radiance of the Sea continued to spew thick plumes of blue smoke for hours. This smoke accumulated in various layers above downtown Juneau and extended in both directions for a long period of time.
When I headed over to downtown at 11 a.m., there was a palpable smell of incompletely burned hydrocarbons that appeared be sourced from the Radiance of the Sea. Around 12:15 the Radiance stopped smoking for a brief period of time but then commenced billowing smoke again at a slightly lower level of obvious air pollution.
I called the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to phone in a complaint about the obvious emissions from the Radiance. No other cruise ship in port came anywhere near the level of pollution the Radiance was discharging.
Do I think the phone call to DEC will help? Probably not. The department appears to lack the will and the skill to deal with pollution like the kind many of us observe on a routine basis. My friends in the fishing industry tell me routine discharges of cruise ship air pollution in Southeast waters are making the places where they fish look like Los Angeles in the 1970s in terms of air quality.
The current commissioner of DEC has mostly turned a blind eye to dealing with pollution in our state since he was appointed over 11 years ago. Pollution prevention has never been a priority for Larry Hartig. Why Gov. Bill Walker has put up his antics is a question that should be asked and answered in this election year. Alaskans deserve better.