Saturday, September 27, 2014

German TV Covers Cruise Ship Pollution and Climate

On the Day 400,000 New Yorkers and many more around the world took to the streets in the "People's Climate March" demanding our leaders take urgent action to address climate change, the German TV show, "Weltspeigel" on the German public television channel ARD, was airing its story about cruise ship pollution. The introduction of the story noted the irony that only a few miles from the United Nations, where the International Climate Summit was being held and the topic of greenhouse emissions and air pollution was being discussed, some of the biggest polluters in the world were moored - cruise ships.

The piece went on to detail much of the information that this blog has covered over the last 5 years, and specifically related the story of our community - Red Hook, Brooklyn - which has been fighting since 2006 (when the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal opened at the edge of our dense residential neighborhood) to establish the practice of "cold ironing" for the visiting cruise ships. Cold ironing refers to the use of "shore power" - where the ships plug-in to the city's electric power grid so that these huge, dirty, diesel-guzzling behemoths of the sea can switch off their fossil fuel burning engines while docked at port. This practice eliminates the production of all of the harmful emission that the ships' idling engines and the burning of those dirty fuels produce - soot or PM (particulate matter), SOx, NOx, and of course CO2. Among this list of substances are known carcinogens, particles that induce asthma, heart disease, premature mortality, especially to our most vulnerable - kids, people with lung disease, the elderly, minority and low-income communities - and, of course, the list includes the gases which are the major contributors to climate change.

The German TV story notes that the Red Hook Cruise terminal is on the way to becoming the first terminal on the East Coast of the US to have this pollution-reducing and life-saving technology in place. But, it also notes that the cruise ship industry has been a reluctant partner in this process, and Carnival, who operates the ships that visit Brooklyn (and 1/2 of the international cruise ship industry), needed to be enticed to use the clean "shore power" by being offered a tax-payer subsidized rate of electricity. This incentive was required despite the ships already having many tax advantages (as cruise industry expert and critic, Prof. Ross Klein mentions in the piece, Carnival is only paying 1% taxes in the US), the industry as a whole making record-breaking profits, and also despite the Port Authority of NY and NJ stating in public testimony that the use of shore power at the terminal would lift an estimated $9 Million health burden from the shoulders of Brooklynites, especially Red Hook's residents, who were already suffering from staggering asthma rates, particularly in our children.

Below is a link to the German TV story. If you click the transcript (in German) and view it through a "Google Chrome" browser you will have an option to have the text translated. I have pasted a copy of that translation at the bottom of this post. This  is hopefully helpful to the English speaker, though the translation is a little hard to decipher at times.

On a personal note, I'm happy that my work on this blog has been recognized in this story. As someone who has been fighting this fight for years, sometimes seemingly shouting into a vacuum, it's great to get some international coverage of the issues that we have covered here on A View From The Hook. I thank the people at ARD for making such a great program about the issue. The only disappointment is that, even now, there is so, so little coverage of these issues in our local media - from local blogs, newspapers, TV, all the way up to the NY Times - the absence of coverage is confounding. Port pollution, the pollution that ships of all types create, the burning of astronomical quantities of fossil fuels - some of the most dirty fuel on the planet - the environmental and labor issues, the negative health impacts to our port-side communities, all of that stuff - it's hardly, if ever, mentioned in the media. And that's in the city that is home to the 3rd largest port complex in the country. Our new mayor, Bill DeBlasio, to whom I talked personally about the issue of port and ship pollution before he was elected - someone who at that time said he would pay this issue the close attention it deserves - has so far said and done close to nothing. All these recent announcements from the Mayor and the City about greenhouse gas reductions, and improving the health of New Yorkers, and all of that - it's great stuff! - but, in all those announcements, barely a syllable about the maritime industry's role in reducing pollution, limiting the production of greenhouse gasses and the need to decrease our reliance on the burning of fossil fuels. It's shameful, and the silence on this issue really needs to end.

Here's a link to the story -


Next week will be discussed at the UN climate summit in New York special on the reduction of greenhouse gases. Only a few kilometers from the UN moored daily cruise ships from around the world. These floating hotels, critics say, are among the largest polluters in the world, because the giants produced as much exhaust as 13,000 cars.

Most ships burn residual oil and that goes ashore as hazardous waste. Even at the dock in the metropolis of New York smoke more the chimneys. The district Red Hook holds a sad record. A quarter of the population suffers from asthma. The cruise company whose business is booming, do rather difficult to invest in environmentally friendly technologies.

Hazy Morning - The Queen Mary runs a. Traumschiff- dream trip. Once gliding past the Statue of Liberty in Manhattan. It is a special day - exactly 10 years ago, the luxury liner made its maiden voyage across the Atlantic exactly here. Subtle sounds in the lobby - deep in the belly of the Queen Mary - the guests are personally welcomed individually. The boss is mitgereist prepares his keynote speech. His business is booming - especially in Germany:

"New York is for us very important market, but here we are a year 1 billion to - and the Germans are our dear customers. Because they bring us the greatest growth rates "

He has the cruise manager of the Queen Mary in Sight - Prof. Ross Klein. He is considered the best-informed critics of the industry. How much contribute cruise ships to air pollution - it he points out again and again. "A cruise ship like the Queen Mary produces as much exhaust as 13,000 cars. For years, there are techniques to prevent this, but they cost money and reduce profits in the industry. "

Exhaust as 13,000 cars exhaust as 13,000 cars

On all oceans, the same image. Burnt is often residual oil on land would be special - these ships are among the largest polluters in the world - still. The German Aida fleet, the Queen Mary (are) now the American company Carnival. It controls more than half of the world market.

The chimneys of the Queen Mary smoke continued even after she has created. Exhaust gases of diesel-powered generators to produce electricity on board. The ship anchored in Redhook Brooklyn - Here especially, many children are suffering from asthma. The district holds a sad record. The City of New York indicates that in Redhook quarter of the residents has asthma - which is remarkably high. Asthma can be many reasons to have: air pollution is one of them: The severe asthma cases in his neighborhood drive Adam Armstrong for many years. He wrote to the mayor, and asked why, vessels moored right in front of his door and further pollute the air? "Because here, children die from asthma, I do not imagine that this is our reality. Since we must do everything possible to improve the air quality "

Even after applying the chimneys smoke more Even after applying the chimneys smoke more

Redhook - not exactly the best New York area. Many poor people in public housing live here as the family Geddie. Also Equasha Geddie has asthma. She performs in front of us, as she prepares for an attack und'zeigt us their inhaler - their life insurance. For her little brother Cee Deshawn any help came too late. 4 years ago was because the doctors could only find his death. The mother Kisha had brought him to the hospital: diagnosis: cardiac arrest after an asthma attack. "Now I do not cry as much as before, I got it stuck in my heart and I know he is in heaven now, and he's fine. But I think the strong air pollution here still impaired in our neighborhood respiration of many children. "

Red Hook Brooklyn, here moored cruise ships Red Hook Brooklyn, here moored cruise ships

There are already technical solutions - such as here in Oslo to supply ships from shore power, so that they do not pollute the air at least at the pier. Why were so forget a facility in New York in the new construction of the pier in Redhook, asks Adam Armstrong in 2006, the city of New York? What followed was a year-long tug of war between residents, the city and the company Carnival, a haggle, who has to pay for the expensive equipment.

Now, finally, is built on the pier. The huge current -Transformers are already. The city advertises now even so that the system will greatly improve the air in Redhook and environment. Health care costs would decrease by $ 9,000,000 per year. But can be passed to finally power `s ship, go 1 to 2 years into the country. The leads - are still in Rohbau.'Das company Carnival only a small part of the total cost will take over. "The city, so we taxpayers subsidize the whole thing. Carnival had threatened not to use the system when the power will not be cheaper for them. "

The Queen Mary is thus still some time mess up the environment - many tourists have no idea what environmental impact it there with their tickets abet. The international regulations are lax, soot filters on board, Bestromungsanlagen ashore (Shore Power) - all voluntary.

"We all need to protect the environment and reduce the emission of toxic particles: the reporter asked:" And you have built here on the ship already filter? "This should happen in a little over a year. As long as we still want to burn marine diesel "skimp when environmental protection and to bring in huge profits -. Reality is the market leader Carnival. By the way: In these profits, the Group pays Steuern- just totally legal around the 1 percent: "It's a scandal: there is no other industry in the world, which may so unimpeded avoid taxes. The companies use the services of various government agencies such as the Coast Guard, but they pay almost no taxes. "For 10 years, the Queen Mary crossed the oceans, the clean image of the industry has thick black spots.

Author: Markus Schmidt / ARD Studio New York

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Shore Power is Coming! ... at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal

Since the announcement in April, 2011 that the DEAL WAS DONE to create the first shore power berth on the U.S. East Coast at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (BCT), it has been a slow, long wait for the Red Hook community wanting to see some physical proof that this plan was actually happening.

Well, it is happening - though there have been a couple of "speed bumps" along the way.

The change in the leadership of the Port Authority was one. In October, 2011, Chris Ward - a strong supporter of the shore power plan - announced he was leaving his Executive Directorship role at the PA and Pat Foye was coming in. After that change of leadership, the Port Authority started baulking at an extra $4.3 Million that was going to be required to get this plan up and running.

See this, from a post on this blog in March, 2012 -

"A few weeks back, there was the troubling news that that the Port Authority was balking at the revised cost of creating the shore power infrastructure at the terminal. They had okayed the original investment, but were questioning the extra amount that would be required. 

How much were we talking about here? According to this Brooklyn Eagle story (here), the shortfall was $4.3 Million.

When the Port Authority has already made statements saying that this plan would save Brooklyn residents $9 Million per year - let me say that again - PER YEAR - in health costs. When those health costs include, as stated by the EPA and many others, asthma, cancer, premature death, lung and heart disease. When those who disproportionately bear this burden are our most vulnerable - our children (Red Hook's kids already have 40% asthma rates), the elderly, minority and low-income communities. Why is this even a question?

Yes, the Port Authority is having budget problems, but on that matter they're talking about numbers in the billions of dollars. So to quibble over this relatively small amount, when the savings are so obvious and precious (we're talking about our kids here) - and knowing that the added investment pays for itself in 6 months - it seems very short sighted to be delaying this plan."

Well, in June, 2012, the people at the Port Authority finally came to their senses and gave their approval to the extra funding (story here). The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal shore power plan was a go!

Then came Superstorm Sandy. 

The storm and the damaging flooding that inundated our neighborhood in October, 2012 threw a wrench in the works of everything that was happening in Red Hook. The shore power plan was no exception. With the new reality of potential flooding, threats to infrastructure, housing, economic activity and more on everyone's mind, there was a lot to consider. The entire future of Red Hook seemed uncertain.

Many people asked in the last year or so, "Is the shore power plan happening?". "When is it happening?". We asked representatives of our elected officials for answers. The replies we received were all assurances that this plan was going ahead, despite the delays. But, people were still asking, "Where is the evidence?"

Then Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez got involved. A letter was sent from her office to the Port Authority asking for an update on the progress. Their response came in May, 2013, in the way of a letter to Congresswoman Velázquez, (and CCd to many of our other representatives), stating that the Port Authority was announcing it was ready to "initiate the construction and installation of Shore Power Technology at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook". They stated that the infrastructure would be ready "no later than the 2015 cruise ship season." View the entire letter here.

Well that was good news, but - again - where was the evidence?

Well last month, with Red Hook's future and resiliency looking better than ever, with new energy filling the neighborhood and an even greater sense of community involvement evident to all, the proof came that the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal shore power plan was truly happening.


These pieces of electrical infrastructure appeared on the cruise terminal site. The Red Hook Star Review posted a simple tweet on April 19th - "Shore power" - followed by a group of photos taken during a walk around the neighborhood, within which were photos of theses three pieces of "technology", for want of a better word that had been recently placed on the cruise terminal site. "A View From The Hook" took a look as well.  They look like transformers, but we haven't been able to find out exactly what the correct description of these items are, but they are obviously being installed as part of the coming shore power infrastructure. The Red Hook Star Review was right - 

Now we have it. The physical evidence that the shore power infrastructure is being built and on its way to being completed, with the promise of it being put into service "no later than the 2015 cruise season", as the Port Authority has stated.

This is great news for our community. Finally, the cruise ships will be "plugging in" to the electric grid and will be able to stop idling their dirty diesel engines while in port at the edge of our dense residential neighborhoods. We'll all look forward to enjoying the improvements in air quality; the removal of the carcinogenic and asthma inducing substances that are emitted from those idling engines; improvements in the health of our children and the most vulnerable among us who are disproportionately affected by those pollutants; reduction in the burning of greenhouse gas creating fuels; and so many more benefits - both economic and environmental - that have been articulated in this blog over the last five years. 

We can now all believe it. 

In 2015, the Queen Mary II and other visiting cruise ships will finally be kicking their smoking habit, and the people of Red Hook and beyond will be breathing a little easier.

(5/5/14 - This post was edited for clarity and typos - I don't have an editor, people!)


(Though the NY press/ media is *still* negligently ignoring this issue)

Malta Today: Shipping's black cloud: "Rise in shipping pollution could end up killing 100,000s before new legislation is enforced"

Law 360: @EPA to enforce pollution rules for large ships in US waters. PM (soot), NOx, SOx

Port Strategy: "it is in ports near where people live that human health is most affected"

Shipping News: First Ship Plugged-In @ Port of Hueneme = 92% reduction in PM, 98% in NOx, 55% in GH gasses

Motorship: Taking shorepower to the next level: There will always be a market for shorepower in residential port cities

Ship and Bunker: T&E says don't delay rule "[NOx] is an invisible killer causing cancer and lung disease"

Ship and Bunker: Latest California Cold Ironing represents"the single largest reduction in air emissions by one project in the history of the county"

Port Strategy: There is a shore power standard so "ports in the US can use the same system as Denmark"

ABC News (Australia): Concern about cruise ship emissions in Sydney, Australia: Locals demand halt to cruise ships in harbour

The Packer: "Shore power in port helps maintains cold chain, reduce emissions"

Environmental Leader: All 13 international cargo terminals at the Port of LA and Port of Long Beach now power docked ships with electricity

Washington Times: February is "SHORE POWER NOW" month in Charleston.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Saturday, May 3rd. 11am-3pm: Red Hook NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program Open House

Greetings Friends and Neighbors,

On Wednesday, April 23rd Gita Nandan and Danelle Johnson and several other members of the Red Hook Committee of Governor Cuomo’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program attended the final Conference in Albany, NY. While there, they presented two of Red Hook’s resiliency projects at the conference, and stole the show. Speaking to hundreds of attendees, representing 50 NYRCR Communities across New York State, Gita and Danelle shared Red Hook’s unique challenges and strengths, highlighting innovative approaches to improving the resiliency of the Red Hook Houses. Their presentation is in Part 2 of the conference videos here.

With the first phase of the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program coming to an end, the Red Hook Planning Committee will be holding a final community engagement event to share with the community the contents of the Final Red Hook NYRCR Community Reconstruction Plan, the recommendations, and to discuss next steps for implementation. An Executive Summary of this Plan is attached. Details on the final public engagement are below and some background information follows.

You can find more information HERE

Red Hook NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program

Open House

Realty Collective, 351 Van Brunt St

11am – 3pm on Saturday, May 3rd

1:30pm presentation by the Red Hook Planning Committee

Or visit our information booth at the Red Hook Spring Flea Market

PS 15 Yard – on Van Brunt St. between Wolcott and Sullivan

11am – 3pm on Saturday, May 3rd

See you there!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sat 2/22 and Sun 2/23, 11am - 6pm: OPEN HOUSE for "Red Hook NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program" - COME ALONG!

Red Hook NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program
Open House

Realty Collective, 351 Van Brunt St
Sat 2/22 & Sun 2/23 11am – 6pm

Only a few months of planning remain in the Red Hook NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program and the Committee is excited to engage the Red Hook community in the critical final phase of the program. The upcoming public meeting will be an important opportunity to gather community input on the top Priority Projects that may be recommended for funding with Red Hook’s $3M CDBG-DR allocation. We encourage everyone to attend this event and have your voice heard. At this event the Red Hook Committee will share ideas that its members have heard from you to date and answer questions you may have about the program and possible resiliency projects. Details for the event are on the attached flyer and as follows:

Experts will be on hand to discuss specific topics on Saturday and Sunday at the following times:

12pm-1pm: Infrastructure & Coastal Resiliency

1pm-2pm: Social Resiliency & Economic Development

Red Hook Resiliency Innovations event Sat 2/22, 3-6pm

Guest speakers to include: HUD Rebuild by Design, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) and Architecture for Humanity, and others.

We also have a few newsworthy pieces from the past few months to share:

The Committee held its 11th meeting on Monday, February 10th in which we discussed benefits, feasibility, and considerations of possible priority resiliency projects.

Youth from the Red Hook Initiative/South Brooklyn Community High School film production program completed a video documenting the November 19th Public Engagement at the Miccio Center. This will be featured at the public meeting as well.

On December 18th, the Red Hook Planning Committee partnered with Good Shepherd’s Services at the Beacon Center to engage teens in the NY Rising program. At this event, teens brainstormed with planners and Committee representatives about resiliency challenges and solutions for Red Hook.

The Committee applauds the incredible news from Governor Cuomo’s Office of a $200M New York City & New York State combined commitment for the development of an integrated flood protection system in Red Hook. This announcement provides great momentum to our work and is proof that Red Hook can and will become a more resilient community.

We hope to see everyone at the upcoming public event.

As always, thank you for your continued engagement in the Red Hook NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program.


NY Rising Red Hook Planning Committee & Committee Co-Chairs

Gita Nandan

Ian Marvy

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