Today’s news:

‘Cold’ is cool idea at docks

Container ships arriving in Red Hook may soon be decidedly greener in the near future, this paper has learned.

American Stevedoring International (ASI) is committed to exploring a plan that will enable the ships, when docked, to cut their on−board power supply, connecting instead to the mainland power grid, a process called cold ironing, an official there said this week.

“ASI, together with government partners, are working diligently to develop improvements, including cold ironing of vessels,” said Matt Yates, the director of commercial operations for the container terminal, which occupies Piers 7−10. “We are working closely with the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to realize these important projects and will accomplish them as quickly as regulatory and logistical conditions allow.”

Yates said the Brooklyn port provides an environmentally sound way of distributing the essential goods needed by city residents, noting that the port already uses environmentally sensitive electric powered equipment. He said the port’s presence “removes hundreds of thousands of trucks from city streets every year and helps keep goods affordable for everyday New Yorkers.”

“While emissions from ships are regrettable, they are dramatically less than those produced by facilities with recreational or ferry vessels, which attract hundred of cars,” he added.

The EDC last week updated its scheme for the Red Hook waterfront, a plan that includes the arrival of beer distributor Phoenix Beverages to Piers 7 and 11. Officials reiterated to the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association (CoWNA) that the plan includes a ferry from the waterfront to Governor’s Island and allow New York Water Taxi to use Atlantic Basin to moor its vessels. EDC spokesperson Janel Patterson said the details of the ferry service and water taxi aspect still need to be worked out.

Critics have blasted the city’s plan as unimaginative, fearing the arrival of the beer distributor’s armada of trucks, and calling the company’s arrival a de facto expansion of the container terminal. Local residents like Adam Armstrong have said that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the terminal’s landlord, has a “moral obligation” to ensure that the container ships use mainland power, particularly given the port’s proximity to a dense residential neighborhood.

He said if ASI’s plan comes to fruition, it would make the company’s long term future in Red Hook “a lot cleaner and less destructive.”

“Obviously it would be a great improvement,” he added.

The Port Authority and the EDC have previously committed to exploring the possibility of having cruise ships employ cold ironing. In his blog A View from the Hook, Armstrong said the EDC told the CoWNA that cold ironing wasn’t being considered at the container terminal — even though it was being proposed at the cruise ship terminal — because the cruise ships were “low hanging fruit,” and their issues could be more easily addressed.

That echoes what Port Authority spokesperson recently told this paper: “The cruise terminal is served primarily by Carnival, and it is much easier to work with one shipping line to retrofit its vessels,” he said. “Red Hook is served by all different shipping lines so it would be much more difficult.”

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