Posts Tagged shore power

CHS | A hollow victory at City Council?

Those favoring regulating toxic cruise ship pollution won a hollow victory Tuesday night.   Facing an overflow crowd of concerned citizens, the Charleston City Council passed resolution that “the city supports the actions of the state General Assembly in assuring funding is available for shore power at the new terminal when needed.”(1) [emphasis supplied]   In spite of the 10-2 vote, the fragility of the City Council’s commitment came with the final two words, “when needed,” words that were added in the last moments to obtain majority support.  And without the strong endorsements of Councilmen William Dudley Gregorie and Mike Seekings, even this weakened resolution wouldn’t have gone anywhere.(2,3)

Eliminating the soot, smoke and sulphur dioxide wafting over Charleston caused by cruise ships idling in port is such an obviously good idea, you’d think everyone would be for it.  But they’re not.  According to the Post and Courier, “[Mayor Joe] Riley has said that the city should allow SPA (SC Ports Authority) time to figure out if shoreside power will be needed at the new cruise terminal.”  Really, Mr. Mayor?  They’ve already wasted years; how much time do they need?  And even with the squishy language of the resolution, two Council members, Rodney Williams and Dean C. Riegel, still voted against it.  Reigel said that the SPA’s presentation showed that a resolution would not be necessary since it could limit the agency’s efforts to control emissions.  Councilman Riegal said, “I see no need for a resolution, I think they are doing all the right things.”(1)  If doing nothing is doing all the right things, he’s right.

Jim Newsome, the SPA’s CEO, made that 10-minute presentation before the vote.  He claims that the 25-year-old “Fantasy” will be retrofitted with “scrubbers” that will reduce sulpher dioxide and soot when it goes into dry dock in October, 2015, and the SPA plans to add an air quality monitor to the new terminal.  But even after years of complaints about soot, smoke, and health issues caused by cruise ships, neither has been done, and even the promise that anything will happen is a year and a half away.  Let’s be real: the ancient “Fantasy” isn’t far from the scrap heap, “scrubbers” are a weaker substitute for shoreside power in removing pollutants and particulates, and “scrubbers” on the “Fantasy” won’t stop airborne pollution from other cruise ships calling at Charleston.

We’ve witnessed Carnival’s murky environmental record on the TV news, but do you also sense the SPA’s lack of concern?(4)

Jim Newsome parsed his words when he said there “is no data that cruise ships create a health issue in Charleston.”  Note that prepositional phrase, “in Charleston.”  Because cruise ships do pollute, and there’s lots of data.(5,6,7)  But if that statement didn’t give you a sense of Jim Newsome’s commitment to reduce cruise ship emissions, consider this one: “I think the general thrust is that they [the Council] endorse that we are doing what is best to improve air quality in the harbor and we will see where it goes from there.”

Are you breathing easier?

In 2012, in an op-ed written by Dr. Stephen Schabel of the Charleston County Medical Society, he noted a proposed resolution claiming that the “average cruise ship discharges four times the amount of airborne pollutants, especially sooty particulates, compared to the average cargo ship, thus affecting residents and visitors when ships run their engines continuously…for hours while passengers embark and disembark.”   Dr. Schabel added, “The effects of airborne pollutants have been shown to include increased chronic respiratory and heart diseases and increased cancer risk, especially among dockworkers, merchants and residents closest to the docks” and that “onshore power” reduces “airborne cruise ship pollutants by up to 90%.”(8)

It’s sad that the same City Council that stomped out smoking on the sidewalks around our hospitals has never attempted to regulate far more serious toxic emissions from cruise ships in port–or demand the obvious healthy shore power alternative.

#   #    #

–Jay Williams, 27 Feb 14

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr., published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and discussions about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is involved with various local organizations, the opinions he expresses are solely his; they do not represent the views of any organization or other individual.  Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. We present these blogs for C4 website visitors as an information source and as an additional way to chronologically follow the debates, commentaries and discussions about cruise tourism in Charleston.

1)  Charleston City Council approves resolution supporting shoreside power – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140225/PC05/140229627/1010/charleston-city-council-approves-resolution-supporting-shoreside-power

2)  Charleston City Council to address support for shoreside power…  – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140218/PC05/140219326/1010/city-council-to-address-support-for-shoreside-power-at-downtown-cruise-terminal

3) Shore power is the wave of the local cruise future – Mike Seekings – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140224/PC1002/140229768

4)  Disney Gets Top Grade on Cruise Ship pollution Report – USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2013/10/23/cruise-ship-pollution/3170463/

5)  2013 Cruise ships pollution – Friends of the Earth
http://www.foe.org/cruise-report-card

6)  Air samples at cruise ship docks worldwide – Friends of the Earth
http://www.foe.org/news/archives/2013-12-air-samples-at-cruise-ship-docks-worldwide-find-dangerous-soot-lvls

7)  Harboring Pollution – strategies to clean up U.S. Ports – Natural Resources Defense Council
http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution/ports/execsum.asp

8)  Reduce the risks of air pollution from cruise ships – Dr. Stephen Schabel, Charleston County Medical Society – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20120308/ARCHIVES/303089919

Both sides signal shoreside power win

BY Tyrone Richardson
trichardson@postandcourier.com
Posted: February 27, 2014
Both sides in the debate over cruise ship emissions claimed victories after Charleston City Council approved a resolution in support of equipping pleasure vessels with a shoreside power source “if needed” after a new passenger terminal opens.

Jim Newsome, the State Ports Authority’s chief executive, said Tuesday that the 10-2 vote was an endorsement that the maritime agency is “doing what is best to improve air quality in the harbor.”

Those seeking shoreside power and opposing the site of the SPA’s proposed terminal said the city resolution bolstered their cause as well. “The vote showed we’ve turned a corner on the cruise issue,” said Katie Zimmerman, program director at the Coastal Conservation League. “A few years ago, there was a rush to build a cruise terminal with no consideration of options for reducing impacts, but now there is openness to figuring out how to get this right.”

Environmentalists and neighborhood groups have complained about air pollution coming from cruise ships that idle their engines to generate electricity while at Union Pier Terminal. Most complaints single out the Fantasy, a 25-year-old vessel based in Charleston year-round.

Groups such as the Coastal Conservation League and Charleston Communities for Cruise Control said they appreciated the city resolution, even while describing it as watered-down compared to the original proposed by Councilman William Dudley Gregorie. Gregorie’s wording didn’t include “if needed” in regard to shoreside power.

He rescinded his version for another from Mayor Joe Riley. “It doesn’t require its use, but it acknowledges the significance of the problems and the potential shore power offers to solve them,” said Dana Beach, executive director of the Charleston-based league. Zimmerman added that the focus now shifts to an Army Corps of Engineers study ordered by a judge last year as part of a federal lawsuit.

The league and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the complaint after the Army Corps issued a permit for a $35 million cruise terminal the SPA wants to develop at the north end of Union Pier. The Army Corps was ordered to go back and assess the impact the new passenger building would have on area properties. “Options like shore power will be thoroughly examined in the federal review process for a new terminal,” Zimmerman said.

A spokeswoman for the Army Corps was not available for comment Wednesday. The Fantasy must run one of its six engines to generate electricity while in port, prompting calls for the SPA to require vessels to plug into a shoreside outlet.

The SPA has defended its measures to reduce air pollution at Union Pier. It hasn’t fully embraced the use of shoreside power, saying better, less costly options are available. Last week, the agency announced that Carnival will outfit the Fantasy with air-pollution scrubbers during a planned overhaul in October 2015. The devices are designed to reduce sulfur dioxide and have filters to trap soot. Also, the SPA will install an air-quality monitor at Union Pier.

The council resolution says the city supports the General Assembly in assuring that money is available for shore power at the new terminal if and when it’s needed. A House’s budget-writing committee recently approved up to $5 million to pay for it.

The SPA said in a statement Wednesday that its new terminal “would be equipped to handle a shore power connection, if necessary.” “The SPA has and will continue to significantly contribute to air quality improvements, and we will monitor air quality on Union Pier to ensure a true representation of the facts and full compliance with identified regulatory standards,” the statement said. “If any further action is required, that is based upon a change in standards or air quality, the maritime industry and SPA will respond appropriately.”

Carrie Agnew, executive director of the Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, said her group was pleased with the resolution, but she added that the debate over cruises isn’t over. Her organization remains “equally concerned with a more appropriate location for the new terminal other than in the heart of the Historic District,” and it is seeking a binding agreement that limits the size and number of cruise ships in Charleston, she said.

The SPA is opposed to such caps.

A simple vote for cleaner air

A simple vote for cleaner air

If Charleston City Council, when asked Tuesday to support reducing air pollution from cruise ships, says “no,” local residents should have some serious concerns about the people who have been elected to represent them.

A resolution by Councilman Dudley Gregorie simply supports adding shoreside power capabilities to the new Union Pier passenger terminal that the State Ports Authority wants to build. Doing so would allow cruise ships to turn off their particulate-spewing diesel engines and run on electricity while docked.

The debate over cruise ships in Charleston has been long and heated about whether they bring too much crowding and too few economic benefits.

But the Medical Society of Charleston and the state medical association have both called for shoreside power to all but eliminate emissions that can harm people’s hearts and lungs and have been associated with cancer.

Those emissions could be reduced significantly by switching to shore power.

Neighbors of the port have talked about the buildup of soot on their homes from cruise ships and their health concerns about breathing polluted air. Numerous ports have made the switch to shore power to address health risks.

Recognizing that, the federal Maritime Administration recently agreed to contribute $700,000 for the construction of a test hydrogen cell power system at the Port of Honolulu. Why? It would be cost effective and more environmentally friendly than diesel fuel.

Carnival Cruiselines, wanting to use less expensive fuel than the government is mandating, is experimenting with scrubbers to reduce some of the emissions, and thereby satisfy those tougher regulations.

Anything to reduce pollution is good, but scrubbers are not the final answer in Charleston. Dr. Robert Ball, chairman of the Charleston County Medical Society’s Public/Environmental Health Committee, said, “Scrubbers are inadequate to satisfactorily address long-term public health concerns. They are, according to current data, one-fourth as efficient as shore power.”

Still, the SPA has not embraced the idea of shoreside power. It is working with DHEC toward monitoring the impact of vessels’ engines.

And a port spokeswoman alluded to “more modern technologies that provide equal or greater benefit,” but offered no specifics.

That possibility is hardly an excuse for failing to include shoreside power in plans for the terminal. If, before construction, something far superior appears, plans can change. But if it doesn’t, the people who live and work and visit the area near the port should be assured that they will be spared noxious emissions.

Mr. Gregorie hopes that if council approves the resolution, the state Legislature will take note as it considers setting aside up to $5 million to install shore power.

The allocation was proposed by Reps. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, and Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston. It has been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee.

City Council could mend some fences and demonstrate it has residents’ best interests at heart by supporting Mr. Gregorie’s resolution. Failing to do so would send a message that members don’t really care if people are exposed to cruise ship air pollution. Or if members do care, they don’t care enough to take a stand on the issue.

Or it could signal that Charleston’s elected officials are more interested in pleasing the SPA than taking care of residents. The people of Charleston are as eager as the rest of the state to see the port continue to be a success. But it isn’t as if the SPA would be asked to do anything many other ports aren’t already doing by using shore power.

Banners on numerous houses in downtown Charleston call for reducing cruise ship emissions by adding shore power. Neighborhood associations support the idea.

The movement isn’t arbitrary or insignificant. And data support what they stand for.

Cleaner air for Charleston? There’s no reason to say “no.”

Charleston-based Fantasy cruise ship to get new pollution scrubbers, port says

Cruise ship emissions are talk of the State Ports Authority board meeting today.

SPA chief executive Jim Newsome announced the Carnival Fantasy will be outfitted with air-pollution scrubbers in October 2015.

Also, the ports authority will add an air quality monitor at its Union Pier Terminal, where the Fantasy is home-ported.

The ship’s emissions have become a focal point in a movement to limit cruise visits in downtown.

Right now, the Fantasy must run its engines to generate power while in port, triggering calls for the SPA to invest in so-called shoreside power.

Newsome said the Fantasy’s exhaust comprises 0.05 percent of total pollutant emissions in Charleston County.

Also, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is making a rare appearance at the SPA meeting.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Riley came to discuss a City Council member’s plan to introduce a resolution next week supporting of the use of shoreside power for cruise ships.

The meeting started at 1 p.m.

The Post and Courier was first to report on the resolution today.

The SPA has been opposed to investing in shoreside power. Riley has mostly supported the maritime agency’s on issues involving its cruise operations.

The installation of a shoreside power source would enable cruise vessels to get electricity by plugging into outlets that would have to be installed at Union Pier Terminal.

The SPA has said that isn’t cost effective. It also has said it’s been looking at other alternatives to address air emissions from ships tied up at Union Pier.

Back shore power

Back Shore Power

My home is on Laurens Street. The city long ago zoned Laurens Street, which is adjacent to the proposed cruise terminal, for high-density residential development. This zoning means there are many families living in this very small area.
There are already 60 condominium homes, which are a stone’s throw from where the cruise ships will be docked.

Also approved for development on Laurens Street are two additional high-density residential buildings, one of which would be for senior citizens, many of whom will likely have pre-existing health problems.

My question to Mayor Joe Riley and the members of City Council who blindly follow his lead is this: How can you first zone an area for high-density residential living and then in good conscience propose to place ships proven to emit huge amounts of dangerous sulfur dioxide emissions immediately adjacent to all these homes?

On Feb. 25, at 5 p.m at the Charleston City Council meeting, council member Dudley Gregorie will introduce a motion in support of shoreside power for the proposed new cruise terminal.

I strongly encourage all residents of the city to attend this meeting and take a stand with Mr. Gregorie in support of shoreside power.

I thank Mr. Gregorie for his caring stance on behalf of all citizens.

Tommie Robertson

Laurens Street

Charleston

Look Familiar?

Check out this photo of Carnival amidst New York…. Charleston is next.
Manhattan-20140221-00082

Clear the air with shore power

FEBRUARY 4th, Letter to the Editor, Dudley Gregorie

To protect the health of the city’s downtown residents, I am asking my fellow members of Charleston City Council to adopt a resolution in support of shore power.

The resolution will call on the State Ports Authority to make shore power available at its new state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal.

The times call for shore power as an integral part of this planned 21st century facility. Being equipped for “plug-in” will soon be the norm for newer cruise ships. Anything other than shore power is a bit shortsighted.

On Feb. 11, I will present to the Sustainability Advisory Committee, which I chair, a proposed resolution for consideration in support of shore power.

If approved, the resolution will go before City Council on Feb. 26 for a vote of support. While the City of Charleston has no jurisdiction over the SPA, it’s important that Charleston City Council send a clear message to the SPA that we support shore power, also called shoreside power, for cruise ships that dock here.The majority of the health concerns come from the Charleston-based Carnival Fantasy cruise liner.

Environmental and neighborhood groups have evidence to show the cruise ships pollute the surrounding air while the ship’s engine idles at dock side. Shoreside power allows a ship to plug in to a permanent land-based power supply while docked, eliminating the need for the ship to run its auxiliary engines and burn diesel fuel to run the ship’s equipment while it is tied up at the pier.

The SPA has made it clear that it has no plans to install shoreside power. The agency maintains that better technology is on the horizon, and it is waiting for this innovation.

But I am told that what the SPA’s acceptable substitute to shoreside power is a “less dirty” fuel standard to clear the air when emissions are measured, nullifying the need for shore power.

But after new federal fuel standards are put in place, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a cruise ship idling in port will still produce sulfur dioxide air pollution equivalent to more than 34,000 idling diesel trucks.

An extensive study of the cruise operations in the city finds that shore power will substantially lower harmful air pollution even when cruise ships burn “less dirty” fuel as required by federal law.

Joined with staff from the medical establishment, I advocated to make the area in my District around the Medical University of South Carolina and Roper Hospital a “smoke free zone.”

The use of shore power is another step in making the air quality for the residents a primary concern. Just as city council approved this clean air measure for the medical complex, council should continue this effort by supporting shore power for cruise ships to further protect the health of our residents.While the emerging cruise ship industry in the city is an important and welcomed economic gain to the city’s robust tourist sector, the environmental impact that cruise ship emissions pose to the health of our citizens is not a laughing matter but one that needs serious consideration.

A world-class city deserves world-class livability.

William Dudley Gregorie, who represents District 6 on Charleston City Council, is chairman of council’s Sustainability Advisory Committee.

 

Shore Power Now

Check out our “quality of life preserver”… Regulation and Shore Power for the cruise ships calling on Charleston are a must!

Shore Power Now!

Our perseverance is apparently being heard at State levels

Proposed legislation to bring shore-side power to Charleston cruise terminal

by Tyrone Richardson, Post and Courier

Cruise ships docked in Charleston soon could be plugging into a shoreside power outlet, a welcome development for groups that have complained about fumes from the idling vessels.

State Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis announced a plan Friday to authorize up to $5 million to install the necessary equipment at the State Ports Authority passenger terminal at Union Pier.

Merrill, R-Charleston, and Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, both serve on the House Ways and Means Committee. They expect their proposal to be included in this year’s budget.

“With this new technology, Charleston will be a national leader in both economic growth and environmental innovation,” Stavrinakis said in a statement. “Shoreside power will ultimately bring more tourism dollars to Charleston while cleaning up our air at the same time.”

Shoreside power has been mentioned as one way to bring together the feuding sides in a long-running dispute about the future of the cruise industry in Charleston.

Merrill said the shoreside power could ease the tensions.

“It definitely should take away one concern that is expressed, and what we want to do is find a solution,” he said. “We see the ports authority’s position of requiring shore power on every ship puts them at an economical disadvantage, and it doesn’t work on all ships, but for those that have it, this gives them the option.”

The SPA applauded the efforts by Merrill and Stavrinakis on Friday, but it stopped short of fully endorsing shoreside power for cruise ships.

“While we understand that shoreside power has been the focus of conversations to date, the industry is also pursuing other more modern technologies that provide equal or greater benefits,” the maritime agency said in a statement. “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.”

Environmentalists and neighborhood groups have complained about pollution in the historic district coming from cruise ships idling their engines at Union Pier. Most complaints target the Carnival Fantasy, which is based in Charleston year round.

On Friday, the groups said they support what the lawmakers are proposing.

“We commend this effort for attempting to address the serious health and environmental effects of cruise ship diesel soot, and hope efforts are made to explore the other means of reducing cruise impacts on the historic peninsula,” said Carrie Agnew, executive director of the Charleston Communities for Cruise Control. “We have always and continue to support shore power at the new terminal, wherever it is ultimately built.”

Dana Beach, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League, said it would be “a huge step forward.”

“We have said consistently that shore-side power is the only way we can completely protect the health of residents from the emissions from cruise ships,” Beach said Friday.

Last year, his Charleston-based group released a study that concluded hooking a cruise ship to shoreside power source would cut toxic emissions by 19 percent to 90 percent, depending on the type of fuel the vessel burns.

The SPA took a close look at shoreside power while planning a new $35 million cruise terminal it wants to open at Union Pier. It concluded it was too costly.

In 2011, the SPA estimated it would have invest $5.6 million to provide shoreside power,. Carnival Cruise Lines would have to spend about another $1.5 million to retrofit the Fantasy, the cruise ship that calls on Charleston most often.

The SPA wants to redevelop a warehouse at the north end of Union Pier to replace its current cruise terminal at the south end of the terminal. The new building could handle larger ships and more passengers.

Lawsuits have stalled those plans.

In addition to shoreside power, groups like Charleston Communities for Cruise Control and the Coastal Conservation League have argued for limits on ship visits and passengers.