FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“It's a great day for South Carolina and for the Port of Charleston,” said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., president and CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA). “This terminal will handle our customers' needs, set new environmental standards, foster economic development in the community and create good jobs.”
“The Ports Authority greatly appreciates all the support we've received from business, community and political leaders throughout the permitting process,” said Bill H. Stern, SCSPA Board chairman.
The Corps' Charleston District studied the SCSPA's proposed terminal project on the former Charleston Navy Base for four years, reviewing the site location and potential environmental impacts.
The Corps worked closely with numerous regulatory and resource agencies charged with protecting and preserving the South Carolina coastal environment and received their concurrence with the decision.
“This project has been in the works for a long time, so we're delighted to sign the permit and move forward,” said Groseclose. The SCSPA submitted the permit application in January 2003 after the S.C. General Assembly directed port expansion to the former Navy Base in 2002.
Agencies involved in the thorough permitting process include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control's (DHEC) Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) and Bureau of Environmental Quality Control (EQC), the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
These agencies were also involved in the review and approval of a landmark mitigation program and agree that the plan provides appropriate compensation for unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources.
Announced in December 2006, the SCSPA's terminal mitigation plan includes more than $10 million in environmental and community mitigation activities.
To offset indirect environmental impacts and serve the public interest, the plan includes $1 million to the Trust for Public Land for the Morris Island protection effort and $1 million toward protecting land through the Cooper River Initiative, a broad-based consortium of environmental agencies and groups.
To deal with direct impacts to aquatic resources and wetlands, the SCSPA will spend $2.5 million to recreate 22 acres of tidal marsh on Drum Island, restore more than five miles of oyster reefs and purchase mitigation bank credits.
Beyond traditional environmental mitigation, the SCSPA, the City of North Charleston and surrounding neighborhoods worked for months on initiatives to ensure the most positive impact from the terminal. This culminated in May 2006 with a signed agreement for $4 million in community programming to fund education and job training programs, establish an affordable housing trust and other projects.
In addition, the SCSPA and DHEC signed a memorandum of agreement in late March to further reduce air impacts from new and existing marine terminals. Under the agreement, the SCSPA commits to fund a particulate matter monitoring station, purchase cleaner equipment for the Navy Base and buy cleaner engines when replacing equipment, among other steps. The SCSPA will also include contractor guidelines in all construction bid documents for the new terminal to minimize air impacts.
Last week, the SCSPA Board approved a contract to begin an air emissions inventory.
The SCSPA has already brought on engineers to start planning the demolition and site preparation work, and design work is well underway. The first phase of the terminal is scheduled to open in five years and, at build out, the facility will add 1.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in new capacity.
For a copy of the Corps' announcement, please visit http://www.sac.usace.army.mil/.