“Ports Authority hostile to human health,”   The State, February 3, 2012, letter to editor

The State Ports Authority’s objection to the go-ahead given to Georgia for Savannah River dredging is supposedly based on its grave concern that the health of marine life will be adversely affected.

At the same time, however, the Ports Authority is more than willing to dock its pollution-spewing cruise ships smack-dab in the middle of a high-density residential area. The ships’ smokestacks will be within a few hundred feet of 160 homes along Laurens Street and will affect all of peninsular Charleston. The authority is refusing to install shore-side power for ships, which would help alleviate this serious health detriment.

How is it that the Ports Authority answers to no one other than its board members? Board members are not elected officials, and while the governor can fill a vacancy, she can’t un-appoint members. The Ports Authority is a state agency and pays no state taxes and seems omnipotent. Taxpaying citizens have no influence, through elected officials, over the authority’s conduct. That simply is not right and should be changed. Citizens who reside full-time in Charleston and pay huge property taxes are maligned by the Ports Authority, their concerns dismissed, while all consideration is given to cruise customers who come and go. Both the mayor and Ports Authority have disparaged venerable preservation groups that have fought for nearly a century to protect the vulnerable and historic environment of Charleston.

Apparently when it’s convenient, the Ports Authority purports to support environmental causes, but citizens aren’t stupid, and we know this is really about competition with Savannah to see who can get its river dredged first. Even if we were to give the Ports Authority the benefit of the doubt about its new-found fervor for the environment, we still would have to conclude that it cares a lot more about the little fishies in the Savannah River than about the health of the citizens of Charleston.

There is, however, an obvious win-win solution here: Move the cruise terminal to a site that is not in the middle of a high-density residential area.

There is plenty of available property along the Cooper River.

Tommie Robertson


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