Cruise permit receives mixed reaction

By Matt Tomsic
Published Dec. 19, 2012

The Lowcountry gave mixed reaction to the cruise terminal permit issued Tuesday by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The Coastal Conservation League is disappointed DHEC didn’t include a requirement for shore-side power, which would allow cruise ships to cut their engines while at dock, said Katie Zimmerman, a project manager for the Coastal Conservation League.

Previous coverage

DHEC approves Charleston cruise terminal permit

Representatives for the league discussed shore-side power during two public meetings held by DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management for the proposed permit.

“That omission presents a threat to the health of residents and visitors in proximity to the terminal,” Zimmerman said in an email. “And it runs counter to the trend nationwide of including shore power for cruise operations.”

Zimmerman said the permit does incorporate the agreement between the city and the S.C. State Ports Authority to voluntarily limit the number and size of the ships.

“This is encouraging,” Zimmerman said. “Over the next few days, we will examine the permit thoroughly and decide on the best course of action for the environment and the city.”

The Maritime Association of South Carolina applauded the permit and encouraged opponents to the new cruise terminal to drop their objections.

“The (ports authority) has gone above and beyond what is required during this process and has proven that arguments against the new cruise terminal are unfounded,” said Pam Zaresk, president of the Maritime Association of South Carolina. “The port and (the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management) have done their job. It’s time for the obstructionists to allow this project forward.”

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley called the news wonderful.

"The terminal is so important to the community," Riley said. "Not only will we have a new cruise terminal but it will also signal the beginning of the revitalization of the Union Pier area of our city. We look forward to construction beginning as soon as possible.”

The permit allows the S.C. State Ports Authority to install five pilings into the northern end of Union Pier, where the cruise terminal will be located. The pilings will be used to support three elevators and two escalators. The permit also allows the ports authority to modify Building 322, a warehouse that will become the terminal.

It included a special condition that operations for the new passenger terminal follow the voluntary guidelines agreed to between the city of Charleston and the ports authority.

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