I've been writing letters and emails over the last 5 years in order to draw attention to the issue of port emissions in Red Hook. Recently, there have been some moves by the Port Authority of NY and NJ to install "cold ironing" infrastructure at the Cruise Ship Terminal, which would allow ships to plug in to city power when in port. This has recently been covered in articles by Jake Mooney in the New York Times. Story here and here.
This is a good start and will be a great improvement to a Cruise Terminal that still remains inaccessible to the very neighborhood it abuts, offering no open space nor public access. In fact, for large chunks of the year it continues to be an island of asphalt, separated from distant onlookers behind a razor-wire fence. (see photo above)
Although the "cold ironing" issue has made it on the Port Authority's agenda regarding the Cruise Terminal, there has been no such commitment made to make "cold ironing" mandatory at the Container Terminal. This is a huge issue, especially for our neighborhood, and the impact of port emissions should be addressed in any plan to consolidate or expand the operation of the Container Terminal.
It prompted me to write an email to Mayor Bloomberg, (below).
Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
Considering the recent move by the United States and Canadian governments, asking the International Maritime Organization to designate an emissions control area in their coastal areas, why is the NYCEDC planning to expand the operations of American Stevedoring on the Red Hook waterfront, right in the middle of dense residential populations?
When the future of the container terminal may ultimately lie in Sunset Park, why is the NYCEDC signing a 20-year lease with Phoenix Beverages to occupy 2 piers on the waterfront?
Meanwhile our children are suffering under, not only the accompanying filthy, unregulated truck emissions, but the severe effects of the carcinogenic emissions blowing from the container ships coming in and “idling” in port.
As a father of two young children, I am shocked that the city would allow not only for this to continue, but to be expanded - at the expense of our most vulnerable and precious children.
No such expansion (which would be secured by giving Phoenix this 20-year lease) should be taking place until the environmental impact is lessened by the introduction of tough emissions standards for the incoming ships.
Considering these standards won't be in place for many years, I urge you to consider other alternatives to this expansion - many which have been proposed in previous incarnations of the EDC's plans for the Red Hook waterfront.
The inclusion of Water Taxi, marina, open space, cultural activities, boat repair, access to the waterfront and to Governors Island - why aren't these the plans being considered by the city when the alternative is to allow our children to breath more filth from, what the Environmental Defense Fund has called, “floating smokestacks that deliver soot and smog straight into the heart of our most crowded coastal cities”?
I urge you to address these important concerns, and further push your agenda for a cleaner and greener city - especially for our children.