Posts Tagged coastal coservation league

Scrubbers can’t erase…

The South Carolina State Ports Authority announced last week that Carnival is retrofitting many of its cruise ships, including the Charleston-based Fantasy, with scrubbers to reduce air pollution.

While it is good to see some acknowledgement of the risks posed by diesel particulate soot, the reality is that the scrubber proposal is part of a Carnival plan to avoid burning cleaner fuel otherwise required by law.

What’s more, the fact remains that shore power — plugging in a cruise ship while it is docked — is the cleanest option available. Not only does shore power reduce the total amount of pollution emitted by hundreds of tons per year, it would disperse the remaining pollution over a much larger and less populated area.

Announcing the investment of scrubbers and filters by Carnival, SPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said that “the Fantasy’s exhaust comprises 0.05 percent of total pollutant emissions in Charleston County.”

This statement shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the danger associated with the pollutants from a significant diesel source: location, location, location.

When it comes to air pollution, and especially diesel air toxins, proximity matters. Other ports have located industrial cruise terminals away from population centers for that reason. Other ports have also installed shore power — including at the cruise terminal in Brooklyn, where a Carnival ship calls.

In Carnival’s eyes, Charleston is not worth that investment. In fact, Carnival’s proposal to use scrubbers is part of an overall corporate campaign to avoid burning cleaner fuel while in port and out at sea. The International Maritime Organization, and subsequently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, approved a regulatory plan that required ships to start burning cleaner fuel in 2010, and fully phases in by the year 2015. Carnival led a major lobbying effort to overturn that rule, and ultimately was able to encourage the EPA to allow flexibility to the law through the experimental use of scrubbers and filters.

The EPA has granted the trial under the assumption that the scrubbers and filters will achieve the same effects as burning the cleaner fuel, but we will not know until the experiment begins.

Further, once the scrubbers and filters are installed on a ship, that particular ship no longer has to burn cleaner fuel. The use of scrubbers and filters adds to water pollution from cruise ships.

Studying the washwater left over from scrubbing and filtering, the EPA has pointed out that “use of scrubbers to clean the exhaust from marine engines using high sulfur residual oil and diesel fuels may lead to high concentrations of a number of harmful compounds in the water body around the ships.” These harmful compounds include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the largest known group of cancer-causing substances. PAHs also change the genetic materials of mammals, and bioaccumulate in edible shellfish consumed by humans.

The washwater also contains dangerous metals, such as arsenic, copper, lead, nickel, and selenium. Impacts from exposure to these metals include impaired organ function and reproduction, birth defects, and if at a high enough exposure, acute mortality.

In tests of scrubbers on cruise ships, the EPA determined that the amount of PAHs and metals disposed of could pose a risk to humans and other affected mammals and shellfish, and could also exceed water quality standards on a localized scale. Limits recommended by the International Maritime Organization “may not be sufficiently protective.”

The Post and Courier’s recent coverage of this debate included statements from our city leaders, such as “I think it [shore power] should be installed when needed … when it proves direct environmental benefit and it’s cost effective,” as well as “why is it necessary at this time?”

The data are here. It makes sense to include shore power in the design for the new cruise terminal. We also know the cost-sharing structure from other ports, including Brooklyn, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Juneau, among others.

We know shore power will protect the most lives in our dense downtown where many people work, live, and visit.

The time for shore power is now. Any delay or refusal to acknowledge this fact makes it very clear where our elected leaders stand on a deadly threat to the public’s health.

Katie Zimmerman is program director of the Coastal Conservation League.

F for Carnival Fantasy

Friends of the Earth has just released its Cruise Line Report Card for 2013, which can be viewed by clicking here.

This year’s Report Card compares the environmental footprint of 16 major cruise lines and 162 cruise ships, in order to help vacationers decide which cruise to take based on a cruise ship or cruise line’s environmental and human health impacts.
The Carnival Fantasy, for the fifth year in a row, earned an overall grade of an “F.” Carnival Cruise Lines began homeporting the Carnival Fantasy (the oldest ship in its fleet) in Charleston beginning in 2010.

The ship’s grade is the result of the following:

  • The ship lacks the most advanced sewage and wastewater treatment systems available, and instead dumps minimally treated sewage directly into the water.
  • The ship is not retrofitted to plug in to shorepower, and instead runs polluting engines when docked in the heart of our downtown area.
  • The ship utilizes higher sulfur fuels continuously.

Carnival Cruise Lines as a whole earned an overall grade of a “C-.” This is an improvement from prior grades over the years. Carnival Cruise Lines has 24 ships, and only two of those ships have advanced sewage treatment systems. The line has one ship operating in Alaska, and during the graded year received four citations from Alaskan authorities for violations of the state’s water pollution standards.
It is also important to distinguish that Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise holder, owns nearly half of the lines in this report, not just Carnival Cruise Lines.

Don’t ruin city, letter to the editor 10/5/13

Don’t ruin city

I live in Houston, and have made numerous trips to Charleston to be treated time after time to the most pleasant, lovely, historically fascinating, gentle and delightful city in America. I have lodged in hotels downtown, in private homes, and at Middleton Place, and dined in many of your fine restaurants. I cannot say enough about the attractiveness of Charleston.
You are about to ruin this idyllic city with cruise ships. You have a sophisticated city with much appeal to thoughtful travelers who don’t care to jostle on crowded sidewalks with hordes of tourists whose main interest is buying another trinket or a beer.

For the sake of Charleston, don’t let cruise ships make your city a tawdry place. Keep it what it has been for centuries, an historical magnet for the discerning visitor who comes to Charleston for several days, and sometimes weeks.

We spend real money in your fine hotels and restaurants, and some of us may eventually choose to live in Charleston. Don’t spoil it with cruise ships. If you do, we won’t come back, and a treasure will be lost.

Christian N. Seger

Ivanhoe Street

Houston, Texas

Protesters dive into Venice canal to block cruise ships

Protesters have leapt into Venice’s Giudecca canal to delay a procession of cruise ships, which they say are threatening the city’s foundations as they tower over rooftops and drown the city in tourism.

Protesters have leapt into Venice's Giudecca canal to delay a procession of cruise ships, which they say are threatening the city's foundations as they tower over rooftops and drown the city in tourism.

Protesters swim in the Giudecca Canal to block cruise ships inside the port  Photo: Getty Images

By Tom Kington, Rome

1:31PM BST 22 Sep 2013

Around 50 protesters dressed in wetsuits, backed by 1,000 supporters, managed to hold up the cruise ships by over an hour as they paddled in the canal – some armed with inflatable rings.

The protest was timed to coincide with a busy day on the canal, as a scheduling quirk meant 12 cruise ships were due to head past St Mark’s Square – well above the daily average of two ships.

“The demonstration was a great success and we now hope the government will take advantage of this momentum and kick the cruise ships out of the Venice lagoon,” said Silvio Testa, a spokesman for the protesters.

Cruise ship operators claim the ships create little damage to Venice’s fragile palazzi and no pollution, while local fears over safety have been spurred by the grounding of the Costa Concordia cruise ship on the island of Giglio last year and the more recent ramming of an observation tower at the port of Genoa by a cargo ship, killing seven.

Defenders of the ships say 5,000 local families are supported by the jobs guaranteed by the traffic, while protesters counter that the city’s character is being crushed by the daily wave of tourists who disembark, buy a souvenir and then leave. On Saturday an estimated 35,000 cruise ship tourists arrived, equal to over half the city’s population.

The decree, however, allows the ban to come into effect only when alternative routes to the port of Venice have been found, possibly along newly dredged channels across the Venice lagoon – a solution that would take years to implement.

But on Saturday, politicians appeared ready to put a halt to the ships before then.

Andrea Orlando, the environment minister, said he would propose next month the gradual switching of ships to Marghera, a mainland port in the lagoon, even before an alternative route was decided on.

“The time for decisions has arrived, the big ships must go as soon as possible,” said Giorgio Orsoni, mayor of Venice.

New chance to reduce cruise impacts

The Carnival ship Fantasy, when it is here in its home port, doesn’t just pick up and drop off passengers. It has a significant impact on the environment and the congestion on peninsula Charleston’s streets and sidewalks. It makes noise and looms larger than anything else in Charleston’s historic area.

A ruling by federal Judge Richard Gergel acknowledges that those consequences must be addressed before a new $35 million cruise terminal is permitted.

That means a delay for the State Ports Authority, which wants to convert an old shed into a large modern cruise terminal at Union Pier. We hope it also means that decisions will be made with more sensitivity to the city and its people.

The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston sued the Army Corps of Engineers over a permit it issued allowing five pilings to be driven on the waterfront for the proposed terminal. The pilings would be necessary to bear the weight of escalators and elevators.

The lawsuit has been viewed by some as baseless, misdirected obstructionism.

But Judge Gergel concluded otherwise — and strongly. On Thursday he said the Corps was dismissive of its duties to evaluate the project in its entirety, possibly “because they’re scared of what the answer is.”

He also noted what cruise industry enthusiasts have played down: The terminal is being designed for vessels even larger than the Fantasy. A ship accommodating 3,500 passengers instead of 2,000 would make a much bigger impact.

Neighborhood associations, preservationists and environmentalists have expressed concern that, unchecked by regulations, the industry will grow too large for this small area and will bring big problems that other historic ports like Venice are experiencing.

S.C. State Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome has pledged to Charleston Mayor Joe Riley that the SPA will allow no more than 104 cruises a year without holding public hearings. The mayor has said he is satisfied with that.

His stance is surprising, given the broad regulations that otherwise govern historic Charleston: the color people can paint their homes, the number of pedicabs that can operate, tour boat operations, the scholarship of tour directors, and the number and location of hotel rooms.

The city has been asked to put regulations in place to control the cruise industry, not to eliminate it, but to limit inappropriate growth.

Carnival and the port have been challenged to commit to such limits, and to install and use plug-in power for cruise ships idling at the dock and producing the kind of emissions that have been associated with lung disease and cancer.

They have refused.

A new study commissioned by the Southern Environmental Law Center makes a strong case for shoreside power. Energy and Environmental Research Associates in Pittsford, N.Y., concludes that cruise ships in Charleston could dramatically reduce pollution by plugging into the electrical grid — even after regulations requiring ships to burn cleaner fuel are implemented.

The 2,000-passenger Fantasy, plugging in at dock, could reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 92 percent, ozone-causing nitrogen oxides by 98 percent, small particulate soot by 34 percent and carbon dioxide by 26 percent.

Incorporating shoreside power into any plans for a new terminal is only logical.

Historic Charleston, widely and deservedly praised for its preservation efforts, remains on the watch list of the National Trust for Historic Preservation as being at risk because of the impact of cruise ships.

The court-ordered review of the Ports Authority’s terminal project offers another chance to do the cruise business in Charleston the right way.

As taken from Charleston’s Post and Courier

Judge tosses federal permit for $35 million cruise terminal

Judge tosses federal permit for $35 million cruise terminal

By BRUCE SMITH
Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – A judge has tossed out a federal permit for a proposed $35 million cruise terminal in Charleston, saying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately review the project impacts.

The decision Thursday by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel is a victory for neighborhood and preservation groups opposed to Charleston’s expanded cruise industry.

Those groups sued saying the Corps needed to do a more extensive review of impacts on the environment and the city’s historic district. The Corps said that installing five clusters of pilings beneath a building already used for maritime purposes would have little impact.

But Gergel says the analysis was flawed by limiting it to installing piers. He says he’s issuing an order sending the permit back to the Corps for a wider review.

Back to drawing board for Army Corps after federal judge orders more review in cruise terminal permit

A federal judge has ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to redo its study that approved a permit for a new cruise terminal in downtown Charleston.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel said the federal agency did not study all aspects when it awarded a permit last year for five pilings to construct the $35 million terminal at Union Pier.

“The scope of the analysis was done wrong,” Gergel said in court on Thursday. The S.C. State Ports Authority wants to build a new cruise terminal to replace an aging one already at Union Pier. The pilings are needed to convert a former warehouse into the new terminal.

Gergel made the decision after hearing nearly two hours of oral arguments between lawyers in downtown Charleston.

The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston are suing the Army Corps over the federal permit, saying partly that the Army Corps didn’t take into account the effect on historical properties.

Gergel sided with the groups on Thursday, saying the Army Corps should have looked at the historical and environmental concerns when it approved the project.

This marks one of three lawsuits opposing expanded cruises in downtown Charleston.

Anyone Know Where I Can Plug in My Cruise Ship?

Study: On-shore power would dramatically reduce cruise ship emissions

‘Waiter, there’s small particulate soot in my soup’

Posted by Paul Bowers on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 4:00 AM

MIKE LEDFORD FILE PHOTO

  • Mike Ledford file photo

A new study shows that cruise ships docked in Charleston could reduce their carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 97 percent by plugging into the onshore power grid instead of idling their engines.

The report is fodder for an ongoing debate about the future of the Holy City cruise ship industry, sparked by the S.C. State Ports Authority’s plan to build a new $35 million cruise terminal in the historic district and by city leaders’ refusal to enforce caps on cruise ship traffic. Environmental and community groups have filed lawsuits in the matter and pushed SPA to consider incorporating power grid plug-ins in the new terminal design, as has been done at seven other U.S. ports including one in Brooklyn, N.Y., but SPA has refused to make the change. As a result, cruise ships will continue to run their engines at the Charleston port to power lights, air conditioners, refrigerators, and other equipment. In the new study, which was published Monday, these onshore electrical needs are referred to as the “hotelling load factor.”

The study, published Monday, was commissioned by the Charleston-based Southern Environmental Law Center and prepared by the Pittsford, N.Y.-based Energy and Environmental Research Associates, LLC. In estimating emissions, it used methodologies similar to ones used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

Under current conditions, according to the report, a switch to onshore power would reduce emissions of carbon monoxide by 92 percent, nitrogen oxide by 98 percent, small particulate soot by 34 percent, and carbon dioxide by 26 percent. The study found that a 2,000-passenger Carnival ship emits 68.3 metric tons of nitrogen oxide per year in the time it idles at the Charleston terminal, whereas the same ship using shore-based power would emit only 0.8 metric tons in Charleston.

The study also looks forward to the year 2019, when Carnival will be operating larger 3,500-passenger ships that are expected to emit more pollutants. By then, the South Carolina utility SCE&G is also expected to have shifted toward natural gas and nuclear power generation, leading to lower emissions from the currently coal-based onshore power source. As a result, the study finds that the emissions cuts from switching to on-shore power would be even more dramatic in 2019: Carbon monoxide emissions would be reduced by 97 percent, nitrogen oxide by 99 percent, small particulate soot by 71 percent, and carbon dioxide by 36 percent.

SPA representative Allison Skipper says she has not seen the report yet, but that her organization “believes Carnival to be operating legally in Charleston” under federal MARPOL (Maritime Pollution) Annex VI emissions standards. Those standards, which went into effect in 2005, placed limits on ships’ emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide.

The Coastal Conservation League, a vocal proponent of onshore power for Charleston cruise ships, is touting the report as support for their side in the debate. “People in Charleston are not anti-cruise,” says Katie Zimmerman, a program manager at CCL. “They just want a fair look at options used in other ports to manage cruise impacts and protect human health, and shore power is one of them.”

New Technology to Reduce Air Emissions Does Not Address All Concerns

Thew new technology to reduce air emissions sounds great in theory, BUT does it address the fact that the Carnival Fantasy would not be one of the ships to which they will add the scrubbers – so looks like our harbor will still be victim to nasty fuel and residue!

As taken from Charleston’s Post and Courier on September 8th:

Carnival Cruise Lines’ announcement last week that it plans to install new technology to reduce air emissions on 30 of its ships means more to its shareholders than it does to the people of Charleston who are concerned about dangerous pollutants. The company will install scrubbers to cut sulfur oxide emissions and filters to capture soot. It is cheaper than and expected to be as effective as using federally mandated cleaner fuel, according to the EPA.

And it still leaves Charleston in need of plug-in power for cruise ships while they are docked here.

When Carnival’s Fantasy is at dock for debarkation and embarkation, it continues to idle so that the air conditioning and lights will be operational. While it idles, it emits particulate matter. Even using the cleaner fuel that federal regulations will soon require, emissions would be a problem.

The Port of Long Beach, Calif., (which is switching to shore power) estimates shutting down auxiliary engines for a day is the equivalent of taking 33,000 cars off the road. That’s not good enough. Other ports have installed shoreside power and required cruise ships to use it. It has worked, and Charleston deserves no less.

As a matter of fact, it’s of particular concern here because the port is adjacent to dense residential areas, often crowded with visitors. Those kinds of emissions have been connected to lung disease, heart disease and cancer. Both the Charleston and the South Carolina medical associations have called for shoreside power. The health risk is one reason preservationists, neighborhood associations and environmentalists have sued Carnival. Other reasons are the ship’s impact on congestion as thousands of passengers come and go, noise from loudspeakers, and its visually overwhelming profile.

Soot also has been a major complaint. Maybe the new scrubbers will ease that problem. But altogether, the fear is that the city’s important heritage tourism will be diminished. Opponents haven’t asked that cruise ships be banned, only that they agree to reasonable, enforceable limitations as to the size of the ships, the number of passengers they hold and the frequency of visits here. The city of Charleston has failed to go along.

The port has made some strides in addressing air pollution. For example, it has implemented a program to provide financial incentives to encourage truckers to replace their old diesel rigs with more fuel-efficient trucks. Plug-in electrical power is another effort that the port could make that would improve the livability and the health of its neighbors.

So, Will Fantasy Be Cleaned Up?

All of this sounds great, in theory…. Does this mean that the City of Charleston and Carnival Cruise Lines are going to take measures to protect our precious city and harbor from  its effects?

——

Federal environmental regulators have reached a tentative deal with Carnival Cruise Lines to reduce air pollution for nearly a third of its cruise ships, officials said today.

The agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency and Coast Guard calls for Carnival to install pollution controls on up to 32 of its ships over the next three years, officials said.

The agreement with the Miami-based cruise ships operator will include Carnival paying $180 million in the new technologies, according to published reports.

Charleston is the home port for Carnival’s Fantasy pleasure vessel, the oldest ship in the company’s fleet.

Emission changes for the 19-year-old vessel is unknown, one Carnival official said.

Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokeswoman for Carnival, said the company is still determining which vessels will get the upgrades.

Cruise ship operations have been a hot-button topic in Charleston.

Some downtown Charleston neighborhood groups and environmentalists have filed lawsuits to block the S.C. State Ports Authority from opening a new $35 million cruise terminal at the north end of Union Pier, alleging it will bring more tourists, traffic congestion and fumes to the historic district.

As taken from Charleston’s Post and Courier, by Tyrone Richardson