South Brooklyn residents can finally breathe a sigh of relief. After for (relatively) clean air, a deal requiring cruise ships in Red Hook to plug into shore power has been made.
By 2012, the Queen Mary 2, among other ships, will be plugged into a large electrical grid on the shores of Brooklyn, rather than remain powered up and running on diesel gas while it is docked.
Residents have been fighting for shore power in Red Hook since the terminal was built in 2006.
"The noxious diesel fumes that cruise ships in port have been spewing are bad for
Brooklynites and bad for the environment,” said State Senator Daniel
The deal, brokered between multiple city and state offices as well as Carnival Cruise lines, which operates the Queen Mary 2, has been a long time coming. On a freezing morning in January, nearly every politician that represents South Brooklyn stood on a corner in Red Hook . Some community activists wore gas masks.
The problem was not that city agencies don't want shore power -- in fact all parties pledged support in 2009. The problem was with how long it was taking the agencies to strike a deal on maintenance and operating costs.
The shore power agreement was made between The New York City Economic Development Corporation (which operates the cruise terminal), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York Power Authority, Cunard, Princess and Carnival Cruise Lines.
The switch to shore power will result in the "near elimination of 1,500 tons of
carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide and 6.5 tons of particulate
matter annually," according to a release from Mayor Bloomberg's office.
“This new partnership will substantially improve air quality in the surrounding communities,” said Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway. “The burning of fossil fuels can impact public health, leading to higher rates of asthma or other heart or lung conditions. By switching their power source from diesel engines to the electrical grid, Carnival Cruise Lines will substantially reduce harmful contaminants."
The project will cost $15 million to implement and will be funded with $12 million from the Port Authority and a nearly $3 million grant from the US EPA. Carnival Cruise Lines will spend $4 million to retrofit their ships that dock in Brooklyn.
The City and New York Power Authority will provide electricity to Carnival at a "fixed and discounted" rate for five years, which is valued at roughly $2 million per year. Approximately 40 ship calls per year will use shore power. Beginning in 2012, Carnival Cruise Lines will be required to use progressively lower-sulfur fuel for its ships, further reducing the cost of shore power, according to the release.
The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is the first port on the East Coast to switch to the cleaner technology.
"This is a big win for our communities and for the environment," said Roy Sloane, President of the Cobble Hill Association, which is one of many neighborhood organizations that joined together to rally for shore power.