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Read “Cruise terminal should be equipped with onshore power” in today’s P&C-

Read “Cruise terminal should be equipped with onshore power”
a commentary by Gil Baldwin, M.D. in today’s P&C.

Cruise terminal should be equipped with onshore power
The Post and Courier, December 6, 2011, Commentary

There has been a great deal of discussion, both pro and con, about the cruise ship industry in downtown Charleston.

As a physician who practiced medicine here for 38 years, I would like to address the facts of cruise ship air pollution, its impact on citizens, tourists and dockworkers, and finally question why our State Ports Authority (SPA) has so far refused to include onshore power in its plan for the new terminal.

The American Lung Association’s president and CEO, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Charles D. Connor, paints a detailed picture, stating he “saw firsthand the staggering amounts of pollution” from cruise ships during his waterborne career.

He reminds us that cruise ships “spew tons of soot and smog-forming pollutants.”

“Communities near ports tend to suffer from a high burden of pollution, triggering asthma attacks and a variety of respiratory diseases, sending those who suffer from chronic lung conditions to the hospital and the emergency rooms.

These pollutants cause thousands of premature deaths across the United States every year.”

Cruise ship pollution is unhealthy for anyone who works or lives near it. As a retired physician, the negative health effects on Charleston’s population are a major concern to me.

I am puzzled. The SPA does not seem concerned about the longshoremen spending time near potentially cancer-causing pollutants. These workers need their jobs, but why continue to endanger their health instead of addressing the soot filling their lungs?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined that establishing an Emission Control Area in North America, which requires the use of low-sulfur fuel within 200 miles of our coast, could save our country $47 billion to $110 billion in health care costs by the year 2020.

Estimates include reductions of thousands of instances of premature mortality, chronic and acute bronchitis, hospital admissions, and emergency room visits.

The Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA) actively opposes the use of cleaner fuel, but they do support the use of onshore power. Carnival Cruise Lines is also willing to push onshore power as it is more cost-effective for them than to pay for the cleaner, yet more expensive fuel. Our port is understandably interested in keeping Carnival satisfied. Consequently, there should be no opposition to onshore power.

Charleston can protect its own by having the foresight to require that the SPA install plug-in capability. With an additional investment in onshore power, our city would join the ranks of responsible port communities.

If many other ports around the world use onshore power, why can’t, or more importantly, shouldn’t Charleston?

This is not a “new technology,” as the SPA keeps telling the public — the U.S. Navy has used it for over 50 years.

Investing $35 million in public funds for a new cruise terminal certainly should include onshore power to protect all of Charleston from air pollution, as we welcome cruise passengers to our beautiful, historic city.

J. Gilbert Baldwin Jr., M.D.
Hasell Street
Charleston

Dr. Baldwin received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. His post-graduate training in internal medicine and hematology was completed at the Medical University of South Carolina. He practiced in Charleston for 38 years, in addition to serving in the U.S. Army Medical Command in Europe and in Operation Desert Storm.

 

 

Read “SPA unfair”- a letter to the editor from Laurens Street resident in today’s P&C

SPA unfair
The Post and Courier
, December 6, 2011, letter to the editor

I am writing as one of approximately 50 homeowners who will be greatly affected by the proposed State Ports Authority cruise terminal. Our homes, in Anson House and Laurens Place, face directly and are in immediate proximity (about 100 yards) to the proposed terminal. Ships’ smokestacks will be as close as 150 feet from the nearest homes.

It seems entirely unreasonable that the SPA has refused even to consider any site other than this one, when the health and livability of so many residential homeowners and their families are being put in jeopardy. When we recently stood on our piazza watching the Fantasy depart, the noxious fumes from the ship were so strong that they made our throats hurt, to the point that we had to retreat inside.

We read with dismay the Nov. 26 op-ed about the SPA’s tactics. It is galling that the SPA, a public agency, has hired a public-relations firm, which then makes unfounded allegations, obviously with SPA approval, against all the taxpaying citizens who have expressed concerns about unregulated cruise ship operations.

It is unconscionable that the SPA and its public-relations firm continue to play the “snob” card against concerned citizens who have repeatedly made clear that they do not oppose cruise ships nor any other port business but do expect that SPA be regulated to protect livability and the health of Charleston’s citizens. It is equally disturbing to note that SPA managers receive sizable monetary bonuses based on the SPA’s growth. According to its own web site, the SPA “operates for the public’s benefit,” and yet its leaders have a personal, self-serving interest in advocating for growth in operations.

When growth trumps every other consideration, isn’t this a conflict of interest? Shouldn’t the SPA have been willing to fairly consider all possible sites along the Cooper River for its terminal?

Is it appropriate that a public agency disparage citizens who have with integrity raised legitimate questions about important issues of public health and livability?

Tommie Robertson
Laurens Street
Charleston

See today’s commentary & editorial in The Post and Courier

Continue debate on cruise ships, but without vilifying, Post and Courier, November 26, 2011, Commentary, Carrie Agnew, C4 Executive Director

Endangered Charleston, Post and Courier, November 26, 2011, Editorial

Mayor Candidates Address Cruise Issue on YouTube

Hear the Mayoral Candidates Position on the Cruise Industry In Charleston on our official YouTube channel!-