Friday, June 19, 2009

Waterwire Article - Growing Container Ship Traffic in NYC, and no "shore power".

Did anyone get the interesting article from Waterfront Alliance's publication, Waterwire, "Modernizing NYC's Maritime Infrastructure"? I received it via email but you can view it (here).

In it is described the anticipated growth in container ship traffic and size of container ships in NYC ports in the coming years (partially facilitated by the expansion of the Panama Canal) and the challenges faced by New York City ports to accommodate this growth. There is mention made of the (EDC) New York City Economic Development Corporation's expansion of the Container Terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and Venetia Lannon and Andrew Genn from the EDC's Maritime Section are quoted as advocating to "expand and revitalize the City's maritime infrastructure". It is also mentioned that the number of containers received at Red Hook, (and I assume number of ships) is growing as a result of their policies.

The article goes on to unfortunately misstate the facts about the status of the proposed "shore power" infrastructure and practice at the Cruise Ship Terminal, implying that this practice is already in place. The article states -

"In other waterfront modernization, the City has introduced shore power at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, allowing ships to turn off their engines while docked."

Unfortunately this isn't so for the Cruise Terminal - and, most troubling, has not even been proposed at the Container Terminal despite its imminent expansion, so it prompted me to write this email to Waterwire.


To whom it may concern,

In your recent article I received by email, "Modernizing NYC's Maritime Infrastructure", you are addressing the situation of future increased port activity in the New York City area ports.

It's a very interesting article with many important facts raised and questions asked. However, in your article you state,

"In other waterfront modernization, the City has introduced shore power at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, allowing ships to turn off their engines while docked. At Pier 9A in Red Hook, diesel cranes have been electrified to reduce air pollution."

I am sorry to say this is not the case - there has been a commitment by the Port Authority and Carnival Cruises, who operate the ships, to do these improvements at the Cruise Terminal and with the ships (I'm not sure about the state of play with the cranes right now), however, the situation with the Cruise Terminal and the proposed implementation of "shore power", otherwise known as "cold ironing", has not been resolved and is in limbo at this time.

I urge you to read a recent article in the Brooklyn Paper, "Idle talk! Deal to power down cruise ships sinks", by Mike McLaughlin -

... and indeed I've covered this issue extensively in my blog - - as there has been a jurisdictional conflict yet to be resolved about from whom the Port Authority receives its power, and accordingly how a "shore tariff" (rate of power supply) will be attained to make the implementation of this practice economically viable.

Even if all of this is achieved, the Port Authority's spokesperson, Port Authority General Manager William Nurthen, who spoke at a meeting at one of our public schools in January this year on this very matter, said that the plan wasn't to go into effect for a number of years years - goodness knows when, considering this latest snafu ... leaving our children to breath the ships' - container and cruise - carcinogenic and harmful extra-dirty diesel smoke for years to come. (please read my blog's sidebar for the EPA's statements on the harmful and carcinogenic effects of ship emissions).

You would have been right to say these improvements are planned, however, they are certainly not already in place - something blatantly obvious to me as, at this very moment from my stoop, I watch the smoke bellowing out of the Queen Mary 2's smokestack. Also disappointingly, considering your article's subject matter about the foreseen increase in shipping and while we await the imminent expansion of the Red Hook Container Terminal, facilitated by the EDC and the Port Authority, these aforementioned entities have said nothing about mitigating the negative - and yes, I'll say it again, harmful and carcinogenic - effects of the pollution created by the Container Terminal's expansion. No commitment has been made to implement "shore power" at the Container Terminal with the container ships, as has been the case with the Cruise Terminal, and indeed, Red Hook residents are basically being told to suck it up.

I think it would be helpful if you corrected this inaccurate information - in fact I think it would be of great value for you to publish a story on this issue. Many of us have been fighting to raise awareness of the negative effects of port emissions that have been a burden - frustratingly an avoidable one - on our residents for many, many years - most egregiously on our most vulnerable. We need accurate information out there so that those who are impacted, and those who can do something to mitigate these impacts, are motivated to work together to address the harmful effect these emissions are having on our neighborhoods ....

.... according to your article, even more so in the future.

Thanks for your attention to this important matter,

Adam Armstrong and Family

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