By Matt Tomsic
Published Jan. 3, 2013
Conservation, preservation and neighborhood groups are asking the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control board to review and reverse a permit issued for a new cruise terminal in Charleston.
The South Carolina Environmental Law Project filed the request with DHEC Wednesday on behalf of the Preservation Society of Charleston, the Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League, the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, the Anson House Condominium Owners Association and the Charleston Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
The organizations are asking the board to host a review proceeding and to reverse the permit or to send the decision back to DHEC’s staff so it can analyze alternative terminal locations, require onshore power and make the conditions of the S.C. State Ports Authority’s voluntary limits mandatory.
“The requestors are informed and believe that the impacts of the proposed expansion of the Union Pier Terminal will result in significant degradation of air quality; the living and working environment of Charleston; property values; and the overall historic and cultural values of Charleston,” according to the request for final review conference filed with DHEC.
DHEC issued the permit for the cruise terminal in December, allowing the ports authority to install five pilings into the northern end of Union Pier, the location of the new cruise terminal. 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.
The permit included a special condition that operations for the new passenger terminal follow the voluntary guidelines agreed to by the city of Charleston and the ports authority. According to the guidelines, cruise ship calls will not be more than 104 per year; the port will host one ship at a time at the terminal; and each cruise ship’s size will hold between 1,900 and 3,500 passengers, similar in size to cruise ships that have called on Charleston.
The permit also calls for the ports authority to notify DHEC of any changes to the voluntary agreement, and those notifications must be made at least one year before the changes take effect.