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176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
Telephone: 843-577-8121 • Fax: 843-577-8127 • e-mail:


Ships in Port Go Green

Charleston, SC - The 2,000 ships that visit the Port of Charleston will switch to cleaner low-sulfur fuel and dramatically reduce air pollution, under new rules approved by an international agency.

Meeting in London last week, the United Nations' International Maritime Organization has approved an “Emission Control Area” (ECA) within 230 miles of the North American coast, requiring ships to use cleaner fuels while transiting and while at the dock.

The new restrictions, which impact both cargo and cruise ships, will cut the level of sulfur in fuel by 98 percent, fine particulate matter (PM) emissions by 85 percent and smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution by 80 percent, according to the EPA.

“This is a tremendously important step for clean air in the Charleston metro area,” said Jim Newsome, president & CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA). “Requiring ships to use low sulfur fuel will make a huge dent in port-related emissions,” said Newsome.

According to air emissions inventories, port-related emissions comprise about 1 to 5 percent of total emissions in the Tri-county region. However, ocean-going ships are a large contributor to the port's overall share.

Recognizing that ocean-going vessels are a key source of port-related air pollution, the SCSPA has supported the stringent new restrictions for ships calling our coast. In November 2007, the SCSPA Board unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to reduce emissions from vessels calling the United States.

“An international approach is obviously much more effective than unilateral action,” said Newsome. “Stringent global standards ensure consistency and meaningful reductions, which simply can't be accomplished through a patchwork of local or state regulations.”

Diverse groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Shipping Council have advocated establishment of the ECA. New tougher sulfur standards for ocean-going vessels will start in 2012 and increase by 2015.

While Charleston's air quality meets all federal and state standards, the SCSPA is seeking to reduce port-related emissions through partnerships with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, as well as 23 private companies and associations. Specific programs include replacing old engines in cargo handling equipment, tugs and a dredge, reducing truck emissions and using cleaner fuels in landside diesel engines.

About the South Carolina State Ports Authority
The South Carolina State Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $62 billion annually while receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year. For more information, visit