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.

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Jay’s Latest Blog

BULLETIN:

Federal U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel tossed out the federal permit that was required to build the SPA’s (SC State Ports Authority) proposed new cruise terminal at Union Pier near downtown Charleston.(1)

After reviewing hundreds of pages of briefs and documents and hearing two hours of oral testimony, the judge ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately review all the necessary criteria before issuing the permit and that its analysis was flawed by limiting it to installing the pilings. This marks a huge victory for conservationists and preservationists who had argued that the Corps did not take into consideration any of the impacts that a new terminal would have on the environment, the city or the historic districts before issuing its now jettisoned permit. The Corps and the SPA had argued that the installation of five new clusters of pilings underneath a building that was already used for maritime purposes would have little impact, but neighborhood, civic, and preservations groups, media outlets and this blog successfully argued that the permitting process itself had mandated a wider review.

“The scope of the analysis was done wrong,” Judge Gergel said in court today. This is one of three lawsuits filed against the cruise terminal that many opponents have charged will bring more unregulated tourists, traffic, congestion, noise and pollution into an area that could be permanently damaged as a result.(2) The SPA, the state legislature, and the city have all refused to put any restrictions on the rapidly growing cruise industry or its operations in Charleston.

–Jay, 12 Sept 13

1) Judge tosses federal permit for $35 million cruise terminal – Associated Press
http://www.live5news.com/story/23411575/sc-cruise-lawsuit-being-heard-in-federal-court

2) Back to drawing board for Army Corps… – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130912/PC05/130919772/federal-judge-orders-more-review-in-cruise-terminal-permit

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr. and published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and commentary about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is a C4 Advisory Board member and a board member of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Assn., the opinions he expresses are his alone; they are not intended to represent C4 or any other organization or any member of any organization. Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. These blogs provide C4 website visitors an additional information source regarding the cruise terminal debates and discussions in Charleston.

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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

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Judge schedules arguments on Charleston cruise case for September

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A federal judge wants to hear attorneys argue why a challenge to a $35 million South Carolina cruise terminal should be settled without a trial.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has scheduled arguments for Sept. 12 in the ongoing dispute over a federal permit for the terminal proposed for the Charleston waterfront.

 

The pilings are needed to transform an old warehouse into a new cruise terminal for the city’s expanded cruise industry.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said in court documents that allowing the warehouse to be used for a cruise terminal is a different and more extensive use than permitted in the past so. They said that means more review is needed under the law. They want the judge to void the permit and block the Corps from allowing any construction without more extensive studies.

Attorneys for the Corps have said the permit is not for a terminal, but only for installing five clusters of pilings beneath a structure that already is permitted for maritime uses.

Both sides have asked Gergel to rule in their favor without trial.

The judge has asked attorneys for both sides to come to next month’s hearing prepared to discuss the issues that would be taken up later if he rules a full trial is needed. A November court date has tentatively been set if the case goes to trial.

The case is one of three legal challenges to the terminal and the city’s expanded cruise industry.

A case before the state Supreme Court contends the cruises are a public nuisance and violate city zoning ordinances. Preservation and environmental groups have sued Carnival Cruise Lines seeking to block cruise operations and have the court declare it illegal to build the terminal.

The third case challenges a state permit issued for the pilings. That goes before a state administrative law judge early next year.

Three years ago, Carnival Cruise Lines permanently based its 2,056-passenger liner Fantasy in Charleston, giving the city a year-round cruise industry. Before that, cruise lines made port calls, but no ships were based in the city.

 

BY BRUCE SMITH  Associated Press

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Federal judge sets arguments on challenge to Charleston cruise terminal

Associated Press

Bruce Smith, The Associated Press August 16, 2013 12:43 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. – A federal judge wants to hear attorneys argue why a challenge to a $35 million South Carolina cruise terminal should be settled without a trial.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has scheduled arguments for Sept. 12 in the ongoing dispute over a federal permit for the terminal proposed for the Charleston waterfront.

Environmental and neighbourhood groups have sued. They say the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should have more extensively studied the impact on the environment and the city’s historic district before issuing a permit allowing the South Carolina State Ports Authority to put additional pilings under a wharf.

The pilings are needed to transform an old warehouse into a new cruise terminal for the city’s expanded cruise industry.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said in court documents that allowing the warehouse to be used for a cruise terminal is a different and more extensive use than permitted in the past so. They said that means more review is needed under the law. They want the judge to void the permit and block the Corps from allowing any construction without more extensive studies.

Attorneys for the Corps have said the permit is not for a terminal, but only for installing five clusters of pilings beneath a structure that already is permitted for maritime uses.

Both sides have asked Gergel to rule in their favour without trial.

The judge has asked attorneys for both sides to come to next month’s hearing prepared to discuss the issues that would be taken up later if he rules a full trial is needed. A November court date has tentatively been set if the case goes to trial.

The case is one of three legal challenges to the terminal and the city’s expanded cruise industry.

A case before the state Supreme Court contends the cruises are a public nuisance and violate city zoning ordinances. Preservation and environmental groups have sued Carnival Cruise Lines seeking to block cruise operations and have the court declare it illegal to build the terminal.

The third case challenges a state permit issued for the pilings. That goes before a state administrative law judge early next year.

Three years ago, Carnival Cruise Lines permanently based its 2,056-passenger liner Fantasy in Charleston, giving the city a year-round cruise industry. Before that, cruise lines made port calls, but no ships were based in the city.

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Once again, the cruise lines want us to “just trust” them….

What the Cruise Industry Isn’t Telling You: Crime Stats Explored by Peter Greenburg

The cruise lines would like to be complemented for voluntarily releasing their crime statistics. The problem is that their figures are not produced by an independent authority with free access to all files. The figures are prepared by the cruise line itself, which has an interest in minimizing the appearance of crime.

Take for example: cruise lines have chosen to report assaults with serious bodily injury, but do not report simple assault, yet simple assaults occurred 11 times more frequently than assault with serious bodily injury on Royal Caribbean ships in 2007-08.Similarly, cruise lines have chosen to report thefts of over $10,000, but not thefts of lesser amounts – in 2007-08 the number of thefts on Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships were 24 times higher than the number of thefts over $10,000. By avoiding these categories (and others), the cruise lines mislead the consumer into believing crime is less prevalent than it is.

It isn’t only a matter of the categories under which they report data. What about the data they do report. It is illuminating to compare the number of crimes reported on a cruise line’s website and the number reported for the same crime by the FBI to the Senate Commerce Committee. For example, the FBI says it received 40 reports of sexual assault on Carnival ships, but Carnival reports on its website a total of 17. Why would the company report to the FBI more crimes under this category than they report on the voluntary disclosure spreadsheet on their website. There are discrepancies, not as stark, with other cruise lines.

There are other ways cruise lines attempt to minimize their crime statistics. There are known crime events that have been reported in the media that appear to be not included in cruise line online reports. Also, cruise corporations combine cruise lines in order to dilute the rate of crime on ships. For example, Carnival combines four cruise lines – Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruises – and then computes the crime rate. But this creates misleading statistics. Carnival Cruise Lines accounts for 46 percent of the passengers population on ships belonging to these four brands, however in 2007-08 Carnival Cruise Lines accounted for 87 percent of the sexual assaults and 96 percent of the thefts. The rate of crime is significantly lower on the other cruise lines than on Carnival Cruise Lines; by averaging across the lines it gives the appearance that Carnival is safer than it actually is.

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