Advance cruise ship shore power to enhance public health

As taken from The Post and Courier and written by J. Gilbert Baldwin Jr. and Robert T. Ball Jr.

The recent proposal announced by state Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis to earmark $5 million in the 2014 state budget for cruise ship shoreside power in Charleston should be met with great optimism and hope for a healthier Charleston.

Our primary concern is the public health of all our citizens and visitors, not other local aesthetic issues. Charleston City Council has wisely banned cigarette smoking around hospitals and in public buildings, and the State Ports Authority is wisely surcharging older-model diesel trucks compared to newer ones less soot-polluting.

Several years ago the Charleston County Medical Society and the South Carolina Medical Association published resolutions strongly in support of shore power over cruise ship soot pollution. But the SPA, Carnival Cruises, and the City of Charleston have been recalcitrant to support shore power to date.

Note that cruise ships produce four times more soot/particulate pollution compared to our many cargo ships, which often shut down their engines while dockside. In contrast, the Carnival Fantasy continues to run its engines belching soot pollution the entire time it is docked in the Historic District. A cruise ship running engines in port for its passengers (assuming the cleanest fuel as required in 2015) produces as much sulfur dioxide as 34,000 tractor-trailer trucks would over the same time period. Bunker fuel soot emissions are as carcinogenic (cancer-causing) as cigarette smoke and asbestos.

Ongoing nearby monitoring of particulate soot and air pollution (not only carbon particles, but also sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide) requires major resources and is not a priority among the SPA, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the City of Charleston and other organizations concerned more with jobs than with public health. The American Lung Association and many medical articles document soot pollution exposure contributing to both acute asthma and bronchitis problems as well as chronic long-term harm from lung cancer, strokes (even within hours of exposure), cardiovascular disease, blood clots, and other pulmonary conditions. A study in the February 2012 Archives of Internal Medicine linked soot pollution with cognitive decline (dementia) in women. Hence, we have yet to learn the many long-term adverse public health effects of soot pollution, which often takes years to discover (not unlike smoking leading to lung cancer). Just because local folk aren’t directly ill today does not mean that they will remain healthy tomorrow, next year or the next decade.

A 2013 study linking air pollution to deaths reported that soot pollution comprised 40 percent of all of the global deaths linked to air pollution. Another way of expressing the damage done is that, had all of those who died due to the pollution lived natural lives, it would have comprised an additional 25 million years of existence globally. By utilizing shore power while in port, the home-port ship (currently Carnival’s oldest, the 25-year-old Fantasy) would lower harmful emissions of various pollutants by up to 97 percent versus what the ship would emit burning even the cleanest diesel fuels required in 2015 (Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, January 2014).

Ports around the country and the world that have installed shore power have already seen a decrease in respiratory diseases. Many ports of call in the US and around the world are increasingly turning to shore power for cargo and cruise ships, rather than suffer the ill effects of soot pollution. Examples include, but are not limited to: Juneau, Alaska; Los Angeles; Long Beach; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Vancouver, Canada; Rotterdam; Amsterdam; Venice; Sweden; Germany; Finland; Belgium; and Shanghai. Carnival has worked with several of these cities to implement shore power. Why not the same here in our Historic District?

Financially, shore power is quite “doable.” Recently The Post and Courier reported that the Carnival Fantasy (the oldest ship in the massive Carnival fleet) is not retrofitted to shore power but can be. Friends of the Earth, for the fifth year in a row, has given the Carnival Fantasy an “F” for its environmental footprint, especially regarding air pollution. It would require only a few million dollars from the deep coffers of Carnival and the SPA to implement shore power, from which S.C. would gain income and healthier jobs. Otherwise, the long-term health care costs are many multiples of these short-term costs.

We support cruising and healthier jobs and applaud the bipartisan effort to provide funding for onshore power, which will further improve the health of all Charlestonians and visitors to our cleaner and more hospitable city, regardless of the ultimate site of the terminal and other issues.

Cleaner air is clearly the public health issue in which we all have a stake.

J. Gilbert Baldwin Jr., MD, FACP, is a member of the Charleston County Medical Society’s Public/Environmental Health Committee. Robert T. Ball Jr., MD, MPH, FACP, is chair of the committee.

Letters to the Editor, Thursday, Jan. 30

Stop the ships

Since the Preservation Society of Charleston and its members have no standing before the court to try to regulate cruise ships, that leaves it up to those who certainly do have a standing: we the people who live here.

Those of us who understand the damage the ships are doing and will do to our beloved city should gather together as individuals, find a lawyer and re-file in our individual names.

Passengers who want to visit Charleston could take a land taxi (jobs) or a water taxi (more jobs) to Charleston. And anybody who doesn’t want to come to Charleston would be welcomed by Mount Pleasant restaurants and other businesses (more jobs) and especially the Yorktown. The Yorktown would benefit immeasurably (even more jobs?).

Docking the ships near the Yorktown in Mount Pleasant would be a win-win for everyone. Why don’t we just do it?

Sue Johnson
Meeting Street
Charleston

Supreme Court Leaves Legality of Cruise Ship Harms in Historic Charleston Unanswered

Press statement from the Southern Environmental Law Center
For Immediate Release: January 22, 2014
Contact: Blan Holman, attorney, SELC, 919-302-6819 (cell)

Supreme Court Leaves Legality of Cruise Ship Harms in Historic Charleston Unanswered

CHARLESTON, S.C.–The South Carolina Supreme Court today left open the question of whether the harms caused by Carnival’s cruise operation in historic Charleston are legal, instead ruling that a case challenging their legality must be brought by individual property owners rather than neighborhood associations and other groups. The crucial questions for Charleston – whether Carnival’s operation is a nuisance that could be cleaned up and whether an international cruise corporation is exempt from local and state laws – remain unresolved.
“We’re disappointed that after two years the Court refused to pass on the legality of Carnival’s operation and instead dismissed the case on a legal technicality that the claims should have been brought by individual property owners rather than neighborhood associations and other groups,” said Blan Holman, the Southern Environmental Law Center attorney who represented the plaintiff groups in the lawsuit. “If the upshot of the order is that individual property owners have to file separate lawsuits, then resolving the underlying legal merits will have gotten more cumbersome and resource intensive for everyone.”
Today’s court ruling did not address whether Carnival’s home basing operation complies with local ordinances, or whether it is a nuisance that interferes with the property rights of neighboring home owners, as the plaintiffs alleged. The Court also did not rule that the kinds of injuries caused by Carnival cannot support a suit – just that the level of injury alleged was too widespread and general.
Holman said the plaintiff groups – the Preservation Society of Charleston, Coastal Conservation League, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, and Charlestowne Neighborhood Association – will review their options in light of the ruling. Their statements to the court still stand, including affidavits of very specific injuries that the court did not address. Individual property owners have expressed interest in refiling the nuisance case.
The case ruled on today by the court is one of three challenges brought by the nonprofit law center on behalf of some of the same clients. In a challenge to the federal permit for a proposed cruise ship terminal in downtown Charleston capable of home basing an even larger ship than based there now. A federal court ruled last September that the groups had standing and that the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was unlawfully issued. The U.S. Department of Justice attorneys subsequently abandoned its appeal of that decision. Now the Army Corps is starting its reconsideration of the terminal proposal anew.
Groups also challenged state permit for the proposed new terminal in South Carolina Administrative Law Court.
The groups contesting these permits have asked for public consideration of options such as
shore-side power to reduce diesels soot or pollution from the cruise ships, alternative terminal
configurations that minimize disruption to the nearby national Historic District, and standards on
the size and frequency of visits by home-based cruise ships to ensure growth in scale with
historic Charleston.

###

About the Southern Environmental Law Center
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment
of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC’s team of
nearly 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water
quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

Maintain pressure on cruise pollution

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014 12:01 a.m.

Four years ago this month, hundreds of people gathered for a forum to address Charleston’s “delicate balance” between livability and tourism. Cruise ships emerged as a key concern because of the emissions, crowding and noise they create, and the ships’ oversized profiles.

Since then, a stalwart segment of the community has pushed for reasonable limits on the cruise industry but has achieved little traction with elected officials.

Until now.

State Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis last week announced their plan to authorize up to $5 million for the State Ports Authority to install plug-in power for cruise ships idling at the dock. The move adds momentum to a debate that needs to be resolved.

And while the S.C. Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Carnival Cruise Lines, the defeat isn’t as devastating as the cruise line and port have insisted.

Indeed, the ruling did not even consider the substance of the lawsuit, which charged that the Fantasy is injurious to the people of Charleston because of the emissions, noise and congestion it creates. Rather, the case was dismissed on a technicality

And that certainly will not deter advocates of enforceable regulations for cruise ships from continuing to push their case.

The Legislature, when it considers the proposal presented by Mr. Stavrinakis and Mr. Merrill, needs to look beyond this court decision and focus on the very real problems caused by cruise ships that run engines the entire time they are at dock, emitting particulates that are bad for the environment and for people’s health. They will get confirmation from both local and state medical associations who are on record lamenting emissions for medical reasons.

The SPA is not interested in providing shoreside power, saying better technology is expected to be forthcoming. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and City Council have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the SPA.

The move by Mr. Merrill, R-Charleston, and Mr. Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, is an indication that momentum is finally shifting in the right direction. At last, an elected body might actually consider a solution to the most serious cruise issue affecting Charleston residents.

It is a pity, however, that the SPA hasn’t stepped up to do the right thing as have other ports around the country, sharing the expense of upfitting for shore power with utilities, local municipalities and cruise lines.

Relying on a state budget allocation has more than its share of problems. The SPA’s lack of interest in plug-in power is certain to discourage legislative support for the proposal. So will the SPA’s rather incredible assertion that it could use the funding elsewhere. Indeed, an SPA statement said, “We anticipate utilizing the industry’s most modern and efficient technologies at the new passenger terminal at Union Pier and applying these proposed funds, if appropriated, to implement these practices.”

No mention of plug-in shore power. Of course, the Legislature could designate an allocation specifically for shoreside power.

Even the Supreme Court ruling concedes that there’s a problem: “In short, these allegations are simply complaints about inconveniences suffered broadly by all persons residing in or passing through the City of  Charleston.”

Mayor Riley, who has aligned the city with the SPA and Carnival from the start, called the recently dismissed lawsuit “almost laughable.”

But to many of his constituents it is a crying shame that the mayor and council are so cavalier about cruise ship problems – including emissions and the potential hazard they pose to the health of people living, working and visiting Charleston.

The cruise ship debate is not over by any means. Some individuals represented by groups in the now-dismissed lawsuit are interested in filing lawsuits about, among other things, their exposure to particulate emissions.

Further, the city of Charleston is scheduled to begin revisiting and possibly updating its tourism management plan. This is a good opportunity for those people who object to the various problems caused by cruise ships to make their case to their elected council representatives.

And it is a good time for officials to start paying attention – and not dismiss residents’ very real concerns as somehow “almost laughable.”

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140124/PC1002/140129705/1021/maintain-pressure-on-cruise-pollution

Cruise terminal needs public input

Now there’s a thought… Let the public have input on what is done with their dollars on their turf… Should be interesting to see what transpires!

Click here to read the article from Post and Courier

In seeking approval for the State Ports Authority’s plan to convert a rusting shed into a large, new cruise ship terminal on the Cooper River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated to federal authorities that the project was essentially driving five pilings and doing some maintenance to the existing building.

The argument didn’t stand up in District Court, and now the Corps and the SPA have conceded that they are going to have to apply anew.

This is a good opportunity for them to remove the wraps and show the public as well as the feds that the project will not harm the environment or the health of people who live and work nearby.

Some critics, who are alarmed by the SPA’s refusal to submit to reasonable standards regarding the cruise ship industry here, fear the Corps will try for another shortcut that would bypass public hearings.

That would be a mistake. District Judge Richard Gergel didn’t mince words in his September order. He said the Corps gave the issue “a bum’s rush” and failed to show that it met standards required by the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Health Protection Act.

The Corps should be eager to save face after such an embarrassing rebuke. A good way to do that would be to take the high road – a process that allows the public to ask questions and have input into the SPA project.

Realistically, that conversation would probably be – and should be – broad. It could include how the environment would be affected – perhaps how adding plug-in power to the dock would reduce emissions that threaten people’s health.

But a discussion would also likely touch on how traffic, the historic district, heritage tourism and the economy would be affected when a new cruise ship terminal is complete.

It could include a discussion of the best site for a terminal – both where the SPA wants to it to be and alternative locations, as well.

The process would take time for the SPA to prepare for and execute. And such debates are sure to be contentious. But they could also be immensely helpful.

For one thing, they could help the SPA pursue the best plan possible. Also, an open and frank conversation could restore some of the public trust, which has been shaken by the SPA’s apparent disregard for the public’s concerns.

Regardless of what side of the controversial cruise ship issue they stand on, people should find it unacceptable for public officials to give “a bum’s rush” to issues regarding the health and environment of the area. Those who want to see the terminal built should be confident that the SPA’s case is strong enough to meet permit requirements and gain public support.

And the process should be transparent. It does, after all, involve public money and public land. And the cruise ship business does make a difference to the entire area.

So far, the State Ports Authority has refused to stipulate legally how it will limit the size and number of cruise ships here. Instead, it has asked the public to trust that it will do the right thing.

Until the cruise terminal discussion is open and forthright, that trust is going to be elusive.

Army Corps, SPA withdraw appeal over Charleston cruise terminal permit

By Tyrone Richardson

The Army Corps of Engineers and the State Ports Authority have halted their challenge of a judge’s decision that nixed a permit the SPA needed to build a new cruise terminal in downtown Charleston.

They filed the joint notice of withdrawal of appeal with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., on Monday.

The move came a day before a mediator for the court was scheduled to meet with attorneys representing both sides in the appeal. The case centered on an Army Corps permit for pilings the SPA needs to drive to convert a warehouse into a $35 million passenger terminal at Union Pier.

Blan Holman, managing attorney for the Charleston office of the Southern Environmental Law Center and a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the withdrawal was a victory for the public.

“The government’s lawyers must have realized that a so-called maintenance permit issued in secret to build a $35 million cruise terminal was indefensible,” Holman said in a statement. “Too bad we had to resort to litigation to get here, but the good news is that the public will now have the chance to weigh in on how and where cruise operations should continue in the Charleston region. It’s never too late to get something big right – just look at the Ravenel Bridge.”

In September, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ruled that the Army Corps did not fully review the effects the project would have on the city’s historic district, saying the permitting agency gave the study “a bum’s rush.” He then ordered the Army Corps to redo the study with a more extensive review. The Army Corps will be reviewing what to do next, said spokeswoman Glenn Jeffries.

The SPA said in statement that it will “reserve its legal concerns regarding the district court’s decision for later review, if necessary, following additional action by the Corps.”

“We look forward to the next steps in consultation with the Corps relative to successfully renovating an existing warehouse into a replacement passenger terminal,” according to the statement

The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the lawsuit after the Army Corps issued a permit allowing the five pilings to be driven on the waterfront.

The opposition groups have said the agency didn’t take into account the impact on historic properties that surround the area.

The SPA, which joined the lawsuit as a defendant, has been seeking to relocate its cruise terminal to the north end of Union Pier from the south end for about three years.

The case is one of three legal challenges regarding expanded cruise operations in Charleston.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or twitter.com/tyrichardsonPC.

Documents show Carnival knew of fire danger before ill-fated cruise, CNN Exclusive

(CNN) — Bettina Rodriguez and her daughter Isabel had planned their cruise for half a year. They would sail on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship and celebrate Isabel’s birthday.

It was the trip of a lifetime. That is, until they awoke to a fire alarm, smoke in their hallway and then days and days of misery. Human waste was actually piling up in bags just outside their door.

“Just on our deck alone, there were the biohazard bags lined up across the floor,” Bettina Rodriguez said. “We’re talking about raw sewage at just the end of our deck alone. It was repulsive.”

It was a nightmare, Rodriguez said. Now the nightmare has been made worse, she said, because of company documents that have just come to light. The cruise line’s own reports, inspections and maintenance records detail a problem that had been developing on the Triumph more than a year before Rodriguez and her daughter were on board.

More than 4,000 passengers and crew members were stranded aboard what’s now known as the “poop cruise” after a fire knocked out the ship’s power. The ship drifted four days before it could be towed into Mobile, Alabama — the whole time without air conditioning, and largely without lights, water, food and working toilets.

CNN has learned that the crew of the Triumph set sail in February with only four of six generators fully operational, knowing that the company had an ongoing generator fire hazard in ships across its fleet, including Triumph.

Houston attorney Frank Spagnoletti represents the Rodriguez family and several dozen other passengers from the ill-fated Carnival Triumph who have filed suit against Carnival Cruise Lines.

“That ship never should have set sail in February,” Spagnoletti said. “It was unseaworthy at the commencement of the voyage. These documents tell you that the company — and I’m saying to you the corporation back in Miami — had knowledge of the fact that this vessel had a propensity for fires; that there were things that could have been, should have been, and weren’t done in order to make sure that fires didn’t take place.”

The first trouble with Triumph was in diesel generator No. 6 — the one that wound up catching fire. Starting more than a year before the infamous cruise, that generator was overdue for maintenance, often not in compliance with the safety laws of the sea, known as SOLAS, according to the ship’s engineer.

Read the document about the generator (PDF)

Over and over again, Carnival’s own maintenance reports stated the same thing: Diesel generator No. 6 was overdue for maintenance. The company says the fire that originated with the generator was not connected to the lack of maintenance. But, during that same time period, Carnival learned about another, even more alarming safety problem in the engine room: fuel lines.

A dangerous pattern of leaks had emerged on other Carnival cruise ships, according to the company’s documents. In fact, Carnival’s Costa Allegra caught fire in the Indian Ocean in February 2012 because fuel leaked onto a hot spot and ignited. That fire left the ship without power for three days in tropical heat of nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read Carnival’s advisory notice (PDF)

That would be eerily similar to what started the fire on board the Triumph one year later.

Carnival says it proactively began investigating after the Costa Allegra fire and found a big problem in a different type of fuel line. There had been nine incidents resulting in fuel leaks associated with flexible fuel lines in just two years.

Spate of fires pose problem for cruise industry

On January 2, Carnival issued a compliance order, giving ships two months to address the problem to “ensure a suitable spray shield … is installed” for all diesel engines using the flexible fuel lines.

“After that internal study, the company came out with a new policy to, again, shield all the flanges and the hoses,” said Mark Jackson, Carnival Cruise Lines vice president of technical operations.

But Carnival did not in fact shield the part of the one hose that wound up causing the tragedy on board the Triumph in February.

“That hose was beneath the deck plates, and it was believed the deck plates would provide that shield,” Jackson said. “In this case, it (the fuel leak) found that gap in the hose … in the bilge plates and caused the fire.”

On February 7 — with a diesel generator still in need of overhaul and fuel line shields on some, but not all, of its flexible hoses — Triumph set sail from Galveston Texas. Three days later, off the coast of Mexico, a fire broke out in diesel generator No. 6 when fuel sprayed from a flexible fuel line, even though that fuel line was only six months old.

“We were totally in compliance … with all the rules and regulations,” Jackson said. “We had … our regulating bodies on board the ship less than two weeks prior that had certified the ship to sail. Obviously, you learn things on a situation, on an incident such as the Triumph.”

Those regulating bodies included the U.S. Coast Guard and Lloyd’s insurance.

While Carnival Cruise Lines insists that what happened on the Triumph was just an accident, the company has dedicated $300 million in a fleet-wide safety upgrade, focusing on detecting and preventing any potential fire hazards in its engine rooms.

The company also points out to the passengers suing that the cruise line never promised a safe trip.

Carnival’s court filing says the “ticket contract makes absolutely no guarantee for safe passage, a seaworthy vessel, adequate and wholesome food, and sanitary and safe living conditions.” Since the Triumph fire, Carnival says it has instituted a 110% money-back “Great Vacation Guarantee” on its cruises.

Fraction of cruise ship crimes are made public

Could Carnival have avoided the Triumph cruise nightmare?

Please click on the header below to see the video footage from this Anderson Cooper exclusive!

Could Carnival have avoided the Triumph cruise nightmare?

It was the vacation from hell for thousands of passengers stuck on-board the Carnival Triumph. A fire knocked out the ship’s power, which meant no air conditioning, no lights, little food and water… and no flushing toilets. Conditions were so bad it was nicknamed “The Poop Cruise.” Now CNN has learned that the ship set sail with only four of six generators operating and knew of a generator fire hazard across its fleet of ships. Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin is Keeping Them Honest.

Judge: Opponents have standing to challenge state permit for Charleston cruise terminal

By BRUCE SMITH
Associated Press
Updated: December 03, 2013 – 3:16 pm

CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Charleston neighborhood, conservation and preservation groups may challenge a state permit for a $35 million South Carolina passenger cruise terminal, a state administrative law judge has ruled.

In a 16-page ruling on Monday, Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph K. Anderson III rejected a South Carolina Ports Authority motion to dismiss a challenge to a state Department of Health and Environmental Control permit.

The DHEC permit certified that putting added pilings beneath an old riverfront warehouse so it can be renovated as a new terminal complies with state coastal regulations.

The permit challenge is one of three ongoing legal fights involving the city’s cruise industry.

The Ports Authority in July asked Anderson to dismiss the challenge to the state permit, saying the pilings have not yet been installed and so there has been no injury to the plaintiffs and they have no standing to appeal. Attorneys also argued the appeal should be dismissed because whether cruises operate out of Charleston is a political question, not one for the administrative law court.

Anderson noted the plaintiffs, who include six local groups, allege the permit will allow more cruise ships with the pollution, traffic and health impacts that accompany them.

“At this stage of the proceedings, the court finds that petitioners have sufficiently alleged that the organizations have standing,” he concluded, but added he would consider the larger issue of whether cruises should be allowed at all.

“The case before this court involves the discrete matter of whether the permit issued to the Ports Authority complies with state law,” he wrote.

A hearing is set for next month.

The question of whether the cruise industry is a public nuisance is now before the state Supreme Court. The justices heard arguments last month and have not indicated when they might rule.

The third legal challenge is to federal permit for the terminal pilings. A federal judge ruled in September that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not study the issue adequately and tossed out the permit. The Ports Authority and the Corps have appealed that decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia

Terminal opponents say they want limits on cruises so they don’t overwhelm the city. Supporters say the city will only be a niche cruise market and the industry is already being appropriately regulated.

(Story distributed by The Associated Press)

Congratulations to Our Friends in Italy!

Italy to divert cruise ships from historic Venice

A special commission has approved a plan to divert cruise ships away from Venice’s historic centre

By Reuters

9:09PM GMT 05 Nov 2013

Italy will immediately begin to limit large cruise ship traffic in the Venice lagoon and the biggest vessels – of more than 96,000 gross tonnes – will be banned from November of next year, the government said on Tuesday.

Protests by Venice residents and environmentalists concerned about the damage caused by increasing cruise ship traffic to the fragile city, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, have been on the rise in recent years.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta met the transport and culture ministers as well as the governor of the Veneto region and the mayor of Venice, and approved plans to limit or shut down cruise ship traffic in parts of the Venice lagoon and near the city’s famous Saint Mark’s Square.

“Finally the trend towards gigantic ships in the lagoon has been turned around,” the mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, said in a statement. “We’ve had enough of these mega cruise ships just metres away from San Marco, from now on there will be clear limits on the size of ships that can enter Venice.”

Concern at the risk posed by the enormous vessels has been heightened by the disaster of the Costa Concordia, the 114,500 tonne liner which sank off the Tuscan island of Giglio in 2012, with the loss of 32 lives.

Large cruise ships will be banned from the canal between the mainland and the Giudecca island in the lagoon while a new access channel is developed with the main shipping terminal.

From January 2014, cruise ship traffic in front of the Piazza San Marco in the heart of the city, will be limited, with the number of cruise ships of more than 40,000 tonnes authorized to cross the Giudecca canal cut by 20 percent from 2012 levels.

From November next year, the largest ships of more than 96,000 tonnes will be banned entirely from crossing the Giudecca canal.