Archive for August 2012

Third public hearing set for Charleston cruise terminal.

The public will get another chance to weigh in on a new cruise ship terminal being proposed for the Charleston peninsula.

Read more and get information on time and location of DHEC hearing.

“Our seafood scene — will it continue to thrive?” by Peg Moore in Charleston Mercury: “Owners and chefs of our most important downtown restaurants have spoken to us and written to us…(and P&C)…, urging that cruise ships be regulated and located outside of the fragile historic district.”

Will our seafood continue to thrive?

Along with the price of fuel and competition from cheap, possibly polluted imports, our seafood economy also faces the threat — perceived and real — of water pollution.

Dana Beach of the Coastal Conservation League notes, “At a time of unprecedented interest in local foods, and especially those that reflect the history and character of the region, it is particularly important that we protect the habitats of local crabs, shrimp and oysters from known threats like the discharge of sewage and ballast water from cruise ships.”

Owners and chefs of our most important downtown restaurants have spoken to us and written to us as well as the Post and Courier, urging that cruise ships be regulated and located outside of the fragile historic district.

Why is Charleston not savvy enough to manage the concerns with regulating cruise ships? Many citizens are concerned due to the perception and reality of pollution and the potential spills. Other communities have regulations — Maine passed them to protect their lobster industry. Here in Charleston, the ambience of our historic district and the economy are at stake. The National Trust and the World Monuments Fund have both placed Charleston on a watch list. An international conference here in the fall will focus on cruise ship problems.

Read entire article here.

Cruise control- a response to Jay Williams’ recent commentary in P&C

Jay Williams’ commentary, “Facts demand cruise policy course change,” was excellent.

He is absolutely right that no permit should be given for the downtown cruise terminal.

Send it up river as he suggested. (You don’t want to know where I would send it.)

A. Carol Cooke
Highway 213
Winnsboro

“Corps wants terminal lawsuit heard here”- in today’s P&C, The State and The Sacrameto Bee

By BRUCE SMITH – The Associated Press

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has asked that a federal lawsuit over South Carolina’s planned $35 million cruise terminal be heard in Charleston, not Washington, D.C.
Read more here.

“Cruise soot”- a letter by Rick Reed, MD: “Soot is just a visible surrogate for what is not seen — something far more dangerous.”

Recent letters to the editor have developed a valid point that soot is not just cruise related.

However, this is not the critically important issue. Soot is just a visible surrogate for what is not seen — something far more dangerous.

It is hard to argue with the point that we have lived with inevitable pollution associated with harbors and ships and that the air and water will never be clean.

The subtleties of the broader public health concern are that we have an ever increasing exposure to many toxic elements in our environment. Since the body can handle only so much coming from numerous directions, it is logical to start where simple interventions can have the greatest impact.

Our estuaries are filters, our urban and maritime forests are filters and if we spread fumes around by not concentrating sources of pollution, our atmosphere can accommodate a certain amount of junk. We should focus on regional high concentrations of pollution when they impact concentrations of people over extended periods of time.

Other letters to the editor turn to the “not in my backyard” argument against relocation of the new cruise terminal. We must not spare one neighborhood to adversely impact another, so science is needed before any decisions are made on larger, more costly preventions than shoreside power.

Grants and donations are being sought by a group of physicians who wish to monitor areas known to have high diesel exhaust effects and correlate that with data from health surveillance of respiratory diseases and premature death.

The study cannot run long enough to look at cancer, stroke, heart disease, etc. and cannot measure all the toxins associated with exhaust. But we can try to answer the question of where should we focus clean air efforts.

In the meantime it is only logical to demand shoreside power and methods to control all fuel-burning traffic where dense populations live and work and breathe.

Rick Reed, M.D.
Lenwood Boulevard
Charleston

 

(Also published in P&C.)

July 30, 2012- Carrie Agnew, C4 Executive Director, requests response from Gerry Cahill, CEO Carnival Cruise Lines

_________________________

On July 30, 2012, Executive Director Carrie Agnew sent (via certified mail/return receipt requested) the following letter to Mr. Gerry Cahill (CEO, Carnival Cruise Lines) on behalf of C4.   She states that she did not get a response from her June 6, 2012 letter to
Mr. Arison and requests for Mr. Cahill to address the questions posed in that letter.
Enclosures included:
June 6, 2012 letter to Mr. Arison (see below);

July 25, 2012 editorial in P&C
(“Don’t bank on stricter emissions law for cruise ships”); 
and, the July 25, 2012 AP article in The Augusta Chronicle
 (“S.C. officials delay Carnival cruise terminal plan”). 
_________________________

July 30, 2012
Mr. Gerry Cahill
CEO Carnival Cruise Lines
3655 N.W. 87th Ave.
Miami, FL  33178-2428
Via Certified Mail; Return-Receipt Requested

 

Dear Mr. Cahill:

We write to you as it appears Mr. Arison is too busy to acknowledge or respond
to our most recent letter of June 6, 2012.  At that time, we posed seven specific
questions about cruise ship operations in Charleston, SC.  A copy of that letter,
which you were copied on, is enclosed.

In fact all our inquiries mailed to you, Mr. Arison and other Carnival board
members since January 2012, representing the concerns of leading neighborhood,
preservation and environmental groups, have gone unanswered.

You should be interested in the enclosed July 25, 2012 editorial of the Charleston Post and
Courier expressing concern about the cruise ship industry attempts to avoid pending
cleaner fuel requirements and concern that the SCSPA had no plans to offer shore
power at Union Pier.

Also of interest to you might be the enclosed AP news story of July 25, 2012, reporting
that the South Carolina Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in
connection with cruise terminal permitting at Union Pier, has asked for information on
traffic impact, availability of shore power, effect on property values, effect on air quality,
impact on the historic district and whether cruise ship visits might increase even further.

We hope you have the time to address the questions posed to Mr. Arison, and we look forward to
your responses.

Sincerely,

Carrie Agnew
Executive Director
Charleston Communities for Cruise Control

Encls
cc:  Micky Arison, CEO Carnival Corporation
Stuart Subotnick, Presiding Director
Sir John Parker, Chairman HESS Committee

_________________________

On June 6, 2012, Executive Director Carrie Agnew sent (via certified mail/return receipt requested) the following letter to Micky Arison (CEO, Carnival Corporation) on behalf of C4.   She asks him about the application to Charleston of the good practices set forth in Carnival Cruise Lines’ Sustainability Report.
Enclosed was a June 3, 2012 editorial in Post and Courier:  “Dismiss Lawsuit Against Carnival? That’s a Fantasy.”
_________________________

June 6, 2012
Micky Arison
CEO, Carnival Corporation
3655 N.W. 87th Avenue
Miami, FL  33178-2428
Via Certified Mail/Return Receipt Requested
Dear Mr. Arison:

Once again Charleston’s The Post & Courier supports the call of Charleston Communities for Control
(C4) for answers to questions regarding your operations in Charleston, South Carolina.

Enclosed is a copy of their June 3, 2012, editorial.
You have our prior letters that have asked you — and the CEO of your
Carnival Cruise Lines, the Presiding Director of Carnival Corporation and the
Chairmen of Carnival’s Health, Environmental, Safety and Security Committee —
about the application to Charleston of the good practices set forth in Carnival
Cruise Lines’ Sustainability Report.  You also have our Charleston Cruise
Ship Code of Conduct.

Specifically:

1.  Will Carnival consider the call for use of onshore power by the South
Carolina Medical Association?

2.  Will Carnival comply with its Sustainability Report statement that it
“uses low sulfur fuels voluntarily while cruising near environmentally
sensitive as well as historic areas” by doing so in Charleston?

3.  Will Carnival commit not to bring ships larger than the
2,056-passenger Fantasy to Union Pier in the midst of the historic district?

4.  Will Carnival encourage a study of alternative cruise ship terminal
locations so that cruise ship home port operations in Charleston do not occur
adjacent to the small important historic district and residential
neighborhoods?

5.  Will Carnival, which pays no taxes to Charleston, agree to a voluntary
impact fee?  Carnival recently stated that the reason it pays no income
taxes is that it pays passenger head taxes in virtually every port it visits.

6.  Will Carnival regularly report its volume of local purchases in
Charleston?

7.  Will Carnival regularly report its discharge practices in Charleston
waters?

Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, Historic Charleston Foundation, the
Comittee to Save the City, the Charleston Post and Courier, the Charleston
Mercury, the Charleston County Medical Society, the South Carolina Medical
Association, prominent members of the Charleston hospitality industry,
prominent members if the Charleston real estate profession, the National Trust
for Historic Preservation and the World Monuments Fund—none  of which are
party to pending cruise ship litigation in Charleston—have all expressed concern
over present and future cruise ship operations at Union Pier. The aforementioned
groups are in addition to Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association,
Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, the South Carolina Coastal
Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston.

These concerns by responsible organizations deserve to be
addressed, and we look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Carrie Agnew
Executive Director

cc:  Gerry Cahill, CEO, Carnival Cruise Lines
Stuart Subotnick, Presiding Director
Sir John Parker, Chairman, Health,
Environmental, Safety and Security Committee
Joseph P. Riley, Mayor of Charleston
James Newsome, President, SCSPA

Encl: “Dismiss Lawsuit Against Carnival? That’s a Fantasy” The Post & Courier, June 3, 2012

P&C editorial: “Cruise debate is about far more than soot”

Recent letters to the editor have focused on toxic emissions produced by cruise ships as they idle at dock for hours, and whether the cruise business is worth the health risks it poses for people in Charleston.

Indeed, emissions that are associated with cancer and lung disease are a major risk, and one that can be avoided with the installation of shoreside power.

Too bad that the S.C. State Ports Authority has said it does not intend to install shoreside power.  Read more. 

 

 

“Cruise chaos” by Richard L. Black, a former Charleston County administrator, comments from Florida.

Living a short distance from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., I observe almost daily the arrival and departure of cruise ships and thousands of passengers, and the autos needed to accommodate them.

The complicated and demanding logistics associated with cruise ship operations impact heavily on the local terminal and facilities in contiguous areas.

The scene is chaotic when a behemoth (a cruise ship with as many as 4,000 and 5,000 passengers and ship staff members) docks to load or unload.

Having served as the Charleston County administrator for over a decade (1968-1979), I have a special love and respect for Charleston — its history, tradition, culture and exclusiveness.

Accordingly, as I understand the proposed cruise terminal and its anticipated impact on the Charleston historical district, I would recommend denial and suggest that some other non-intrusive venue be explored. Charleston deserves every favorable consideration in this most important matter.

RICHARD L. BLACK
North Ocean Drive
Lauderdale by the Sea, FL

(Also published in P&C.)

“Where are leaders?” by W.C. Wilson- Church Street, Charleston, SC

On July 24, The Post and Courier published a story from The Washington Post about new regulations regarding the “heavy fuel” ships burn and the sulfur content of this fuel. Beginning Aug. 1, the sulfur content of fuel had to drop from 2.7 percent to 1 percent for ships within 200 miles of U.S. and Canadian shorelines. By 2015, the standard will drop to 0.1 percent.

The article gave credit to the George W. Bush administration in 2007, the U.S. and Candian governments, the International Maritime Organization and the Obama administration. Add the Environmental Protection Agency and you have a lot of people who think big ship pollution is a very serious subject.

Now if I am the guy in charge of our city or the guy who heads up our port, or the guy who runs the big ship, I would want the local population to think I’m at the forefront of the battle to get sulfur dioxide under control. If this subject is in the public eye, I want to look like a leader who is interested in the safety of the city’s inhabitants.

If there is concern about the health of our populace, I want to be part of the conversation regarding solutions — regulations that will improve the situation. Why would I want to be anything else?

It is my opinion that our leadership is in an obstructionist mode. Not so long ago, smoking cigarettes with a percentage content of nicotine was acceptable in public places. Old Humphrey Bogart movies show the actor almost constantly lighting up. For the last 30 to 40 years, we have come to realize the horrendous effects of cigarette smoke and nicotine on our health, and thus we now ban smoking in public places.

I understand that it takes time to accomplish these changes. What I do not understand is our Charleston leaders’ obstructionist stance in the current debate on sulfur dioxide pollution from big ships in our harbor. We want our leaders to be at the forefront of this conversation. We want our leaders to be interested in our health. We want to trust them.

It is time to sit at the table together and do the right things.

W. C. WILSON
Church Street
Charleston

(Also published in P&C.)

“Let facts steer local cruise debate toward a more logicial outcome” by Jay Williams-

Growing opposition to the proposed downtown cruise terminal is propelling proponents to choke off debate before others learn the facts.

The president of the Maritime Association of South Carolina, writing in an article, “Just git ’er built,” provides another reason why we shouldn’t. Pam Zaresk boasts that “the proposed cruise terminal is not just a building — it’s an international passenger processing facility. It is the border of our country and as such is subject to numerous federal rules and regulations.”

She’s right. So why would we put that border, plagued by security issues like drug running, nano viruses, weapons and more, at our front door?

Yet, astonishingly, Ms. Zaresk asserts that downtown is the only location for a cruise terminal.

There are better choices. The Columbus Street Terminal, twice as large as Union Pier with room for both a terminal and BMW operations, is more isolated, 10 times farther from homes and offers direct access to primary roads that would take all traffic off East Bay. Patriot’s Point, Laurel Island and North Charleston also have promise. And the decommissioned Navy Base, with no resident population on land that would otherwise be difficult to develop, is ideal for a terminal with state-of-the-art security.

Then she proceeds to advance new regulations that will soon “require much cleaner, lower sulfur fuel in all ships.” Before you take that deep breath, she forgot to tell you that those regulations are being phased in through 2015, or later, as the powerful cruise industry has mounted a major counteroffensive against their implementation. Moreover, the “cleaner” fuel required after 2015 will be nearly 70 times dirtier than the fuel trucks use on U.S. highways today!

Minimizing the evils of ship exhaust and blithely ignoring the concerns of the Charleston and S.C. Medical Societies, she may not realize that diesel exhaust was linked to cancer and other serious illnesses in a recent 12,000-person study.

We know the facts; we can see the soot. How can knowledgeable terminal proponents claim it is no problem? Why do they write letters justifying air pollution based on the wind direction? Why do the State Ports Authority, the mayor and Carnival reject the only healthy solution for idling cruise ships belching toxic exhaust in port:  shore side power?

Fortunately, before a new terminal can be built, state regulators will carefully consider all the evidence. That evidence includes the impacts of traffic and passenger congestion, the harm to air quality and the environment, and potential damage to Charleston’s neighborhoods. It’s reassuring that more thoughtful people are studying this ill-sited proposed terminal rather than mindlessly bleating, “Git ’er built.”

No one opposes a cruise terminal and jobs somewhere, but jamming a cruise terminal like a sword into the side of the peninsula is senseless. This terminal will cause problems similar to those of a major airport. Why cram it into downtown, creating turmoil in the heart of the city, when cruisers just want an easy way to get on their ship to sail into to the Caribbean?

Why do proponents repeat discredited claims for cruise terminal benefits long after the Miley and Associates study, funded by the Historic Charleston Foundation, proved that cruise passengers spend only $66 a day compared to $718 a day for traditional tourists?

Why aren’t we told that the city loses money managing cruise tourists, that the city won’t make a dime from terminal revenues, or that cruise ship tourism has irreversibly damaged Venice, Italy, and Key West, Fla.?

How can these proponents risk Charleston’s future on a downtown cruise terminal that will produce less than one-half of one percent of the Port’s annual revenues?

Union Pier is simply the most valuable undeveloped waterfront property on the East Coast, with incredible views of the harbor and Mount Pleasant. It presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand Charleston’s small-scale streetscape with stores, offices, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, residences, public spaces and waterfront parks. This development would produce hundreds of permanent jobs, generate millions annually in tax revenues, and ensure the future of Charleston.

Instead, cruise terminal proponents want to open a gash in the side of the peninsula, expose us to increasing border security problems, permanently blight the area with nine acres of surface parking, an ugly warehouse terminal building, and noisy, idling cruise ships, buses and provisioning trucks — squandering priceless downtown waterfront that will be sealed off from the rest of us forever. That’s not a vision, that’s a 100-year mistake.

Jay Williams Jr., a radio broadcasting consultant, is a member of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association and the Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4), which hosts his blogs at CharlestonCruiseControl.org.

(Also published in P&C.)