Red Hook’s coast line hosts the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal where dozens of cruise ships land annually, bringing passengers from around the world. But these cruise ships cause serious environmental pollution to our local community, which is a great concern to residents. The cruise ships typically idle their engines when in port, adding air pollution such as particulates, sulfur, soot, NOx and other greenhouse gases. The Red Hook Initiative, a nonprofit organization, commissioned a study in 2009 by graduate students at Hunter College that showed that nearly 40 percent of the residents of the housing projects had asthma. Therefor this exacerbates poor environmental conditions. An idling cruise ship is equivalent to the emissions from 12,000 cars! These substances are a product of the burning of the extra-dirty diesel that large ocean going vessels use in their engines - the bottom of the barrel, molasses-like oil product called “bunker fuel”.
The use of shore power by cruise ships at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (will) … “eliminate 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide, and 6.5 tons of particulate matter annually. The health benefits associated with improved air quality will generate approximately $99 million in cumulative savings over 15 years. What is shore power? Many ports around the world and on the West Coast require these pollution emitting behemoths of the sea to “plug in” to electricity while in port, allowing them to turn off their idling engines - a practice called “cold ironing” -thereby eliminating these harmful emissions from the air - and most importantly from the lungs of the children and most vulnerable residents of the neighborhoods.
Adam Armstrong, RRH committee member has been working on this issue for over a decade driving the conversation and organizing action to build a cold-ironing system at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. The Port Authority has created a power plug-in system but there is little evidence that the Cruise Ships are actually plugging in on a regular basis. We strongly advocate that shower power be enforced and be mandatory for all cruise ships located in the Atlantic Basin.
Please visit Adam's blog where he is daily reporting on these efforts, A View From the Hook