Miami, Florida and Nationwide

Free Consultation

We received a couple of responses to this story we ran on our other blog a few days ago. The other response we received is posted here.  Below, you can read the CHARLESTON CRUISE CONTROL LITIGATION FACT SHEET


Litigation Basics:
Plaintiffs : Historic Ansonborourgh Neighborhood Association, Charlestowne
Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League and Preservation
Society of Charleston
Defendant: Carnival Cruise Lines
Venue: South Carolina Circuit Court
Purpose: To protect the quality of life and environment of those living in Charleston by
ensuring that Carnival Cruise Lines is held to the same laws that apply to other
Charleston businesses.
Cruise Operations Violate Local & State Laws:
• The Charleston Zoning Ordinance does not currently allow home-basing of giant cruise
ships downtown. The area is not zoned for that use or for accommodations, and the
docked Carnival Fantasy violates provisions designed to keep historic district free of
looming giant structures that block all view of the Harbor.
• Pollution and traffic from cruise operations are causing a private and public nuisance
• South Carolina law requires a permit for any discharges into state waters, yet Carnival has
yet to obtain permits even though it discharges, at a minimum, ballast water and coppercontaining
substances into Charleston area waters.
• In 1991, the City of Charleston sued the State Ports Authority to establish that Charleston’s
zoning ordinances apply to SPA facilities. SPA disagreed. Charleston won the legal
fight before the S.C. Supreme Court in 1992.
Cruise Water Pollution:
• Cruise ships generate average 21,000 gallons a day of sewage from toilets (“black water”)
and 170,000 gallons a day from sinks, showers, laundries and food processing areas
(“gray water”).1
• Federal law allows dumping of untreated gray water from a moving cruise ships beyond 1
1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cruise Discharge Assessment Report, EPA842-R-07-005, pp. 1-
2, 2-3 (2008).
nautical mile from shore – or within the Charleston Jetties.2 Gray water sampled from
cruise ships had average fecal coliform concentrations (a measure of bacteriological
activity) of 2.95 million colonies per 100 ml.3
• Federal law allows black water (sewage) to be dumped untreated beyond 3 nautical miles
from shore. 4 Tests of effluent black water effluent treated with Maritime Sanitation
Devices (“MSDs”) showed average of fecal coliform concentrations of over 2 million
colonies per 100 ml.5
• These fecal coliform levels in both gray water and black water were thousands of times
higher than the levels allowed from Charleston’s Plum Island WWTP in Charleston
Harbor, which has a daily maximum limit of 400 colonies per 100 ml.6
Cruise Air Pollution:
• Cruise ships burn diesel fuel to provide on-board electrical power while ships are docked in
Charleston, resulting in the significant emission of pollutants including nitrogen oxides,
air toxics and particulate matter, also called soot.
• Combustion-related particulate matter is associated with heart attacks, stroke,
cardiovascular death and lung cancer in adults. In children, fine particles are associated
with upper and lower respiratory impacts as well as retardation of lung growth. Carbon
soot particles from diesel engines adsorb other metals and toxic substances produced by
diesel engines such as cancer-causing aldehydes (like formaldehyde) and PAH
(polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.) Occupational health studies link cancers,
particularly lung cancer to diesel exhaust exposures.7
2 EPA, Vessel General Permit, § (Feb. 5, 2009). Cruise supporters claim that ships voluntarily do
not emit limit gray water within 12 miles. That is incorrect: cruise guidelines allow discharge outside 4
miles. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), “Cruise Industry Waste Management Practices and
Procedures” at 11 (2006).
3 From Tables 2-11 & 3-3 of Cruise Ship Discharge Assessment Report , based on data collected by the
Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative (ACSI) in 2000 and 2001. EPA data from 2004 show average fecal coliform
levels for untreated gray water of 36,000,000 colonies per 100 ml.
4 See 33 U.S.C. § 1332(b)(1) (requiring MSD only within navigable waters, which extend only 3 miles to
sea). The United States has not ratified MARPOL Annex IV, which prohibits the discharge of sewage
unless treated >3 and < 12 miles, and untreated outside 12 nautical miles. Only federal requirements are in
place and enforceable. Cruise supporters have said that cruise line guidelines direct that black water be
treated by a marine sanitation device (“MSD”) and discharged beyond 12 miles. That is incorrect. The
guidelines allow a moving ship to dump black water 4 miles out if a MSD is used. Cruise Lines
International Association (CLIA), Cruise Industry Waste Management Practices and Procedures” at 11
(2006). As shown above, samples of black water treated with MSDs show fecal coliform counts of
millions of colonies per milliliter.
5 From Tables 2-11 & 3-3 of Cruise Ship Discharge Assessment Report, based on data collected by the
Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative (ACSI) in 2000. Of 21 vessels sampled, 19 had traditional Type II MSDs and
2 had prototype reverse osmosis treatment systems.
6 See 40 CFR 133.102 (standards for publicly owned treatment works) and Charleston Water System’s
Plum Island NPDES Permit, DHEC Permit No. SC0021229, p. 26 (Feb. 14 ,2003).
7 Summary of information taken from Clean Air Task Force, “Diesel Soot Health Impacts,” available at
• A planned “shore-side” plug-in power source for ships at a similar cruise terminal in
Brooklyn, NY will essentially eliminate 95 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 6.5 tons of
particulate soot per year. That is equivalent to the air pollution produced by 5,000 cars.8
Carnival Cruise Lines has agreed to retrofit at least one vessel so that it can use the
cleaner shoreside power provided at the Brooklyn cruise terminal.
• In addition to Brooklyn, Carnival Corporation states that it has “partnered with local port
authorities to assist in the development and construction of shore power connections in
Juneau, Alaska; Long Beach, California; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington
and Vancouver, British Columbia,” has “equipped 14 ships with shore power technology,
and “expect[s] to partner with other port authorities in the future to implement additional
shore power connections” to “reduce air emissions.”9
Cruise Industry Growth:
• Charleston cruise ship visits essentially tripled in the last three years: from 33 in 2009 to 90
in 2011. While earlier statements projected no more than two ships a week, 2011 has
already seen two ships in one day. The SPA has indicated it could host up to 104 ship
visits in the near future.
• The Carnival Fantasy has 1,028 state rooms for a total passenger capacity of 2,056 and 920
crew members. The ship is over 100 feet tall and some 855 feet long – blocking views
for almost a fifth of a mile.
• On a docking day, Fantasy operations add thousands of people to the Peninsula and
hundreds of vehicles, requiring the closure of several public streets and adding to an
already congested traffic situation.
• Charleston appears to have no physical limitations on the size of ships that could dock
here. The giant Oasis of the Seas, which holds 6,298 passengers, drafts only 30 feet.
Charleston harbor has over 40 feet of draft.
Citizens & Businesses Support Cruise Standards – and Other Ports Have Them:
• The Ansonborough and Charlestowne Neighborhood Associations –representing most of
the historic district closest to the ships – have called for enforceable standards to limit the
intensity of cruise operations downtown to protect existing neighborhoods and businesses.
• Prominent hoteliers (Francis Marion Hotel), restaurants (McCradys, Penninsula Grill, FIG,
Magnolias et al) and realtors (Helen Geer, Lois Lane, Dan Ravenel, et al.) have called for
• Unlike voluntary promises, actual standards would ensure that the cruise industry and its
pollution is kept in balance. A start would be making the voluntary limits announced by
8 New York Times, “Cruise Ships in Brooklyn to Plug In on Shore” (April 13, 2011) available at:
9Carnival Corporation Form 10-K Annual Report, at 21 (Jan. 31, 2011).
the cruise industry and SPA – 104 ships a year, no ships with more than 3500 per vessel,
and no discharges within 12 miles – enforceable. Further controls are needed to reduce
traffic congestion and require shore-side plug-in power.
• Other communities have such standards:
• Key West, Florida has codified a “No Discharge Zone” and limits where cruise ships
can dock to preserve views. Key West’s noise ordinances directly address noise
from cruise ships.
• Juneau, Alaska has codified a “No Discharge Zone” and provides plug-in shore side
power. The state of Alaska has imposed rules specifically regulating cruise
discharges into state waters.
• Brooklyn, New York is installing shore side plug-in power and Carnival is
retrofitting a ship to use it.
• Los Angeles, California has solar-powered shore side power. The entire California
coast has been declared a “No Discharge Zone”.
• Maine waters have been declared a “No Discharge Zone.”
• Florida , Washington and Hawaii have Memoranda of Understanding setting forth
environmental standards.
• Carnival has touted its assistance in developing shore side power in Juneau, Alaska;
Long Beach, California; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington and
Vancouver, British Columbia.