The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

SC Supreme Court tosses lawsuit seeking to block Charleston cruise ship operations

  • Print

COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina's highest court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block cruise ship operations and plans to build a new $35 million terminal in Charleston, ruling that the environmental group and neighbourhood associations who sued did not have legal standing to challenge the proposal.

Groups including the Preservation Society of Charleston and South Carolina Coastal Conservation League filed a lawsuit two years ago, saying that the cruises subject residents in Charleston's densely populated, historic downtown areas to nuisances including air pollution and traffic congestion.

There have been seasonal cruises from Charleston in years past. Things changed three years ago when Carnival permanently based its 2,000-passenger liner Fantasy in the city, creating a year-round cruise industry.

The city and the State Ports Authority intervened on behalf of Carnival and asked the Supreme Court to take original jurisdiction, saying the suit threatens the state's maritime commerce and is a matter of statewide public interest. A special court-appointed referee recommended that some claims, like the contention that the ships violate state pollution law, be dropped, leaving claims over whether the ships are a nuisance.

During oral arguments in November, attorneys for the State Ports Authority said that restricting the cruise ships that call year-round at Charleston could be detrimental to the future both of South Carolina's business climate and large-scale, downtown events. Environmental attorneys said that downtown residents are subjected to nuisances including air pollution, traffic congestion and obstructed views as a result of the ships' presence.

But the justices said the groups' arguments weren't specific enough, dismissing the case Wednesday based on a lack of standing and saying that the damages alleged by the groups that sued are too general to be dealt with by the court system.

"All members of the public suffer from and are inconvenienced by traffic congestion, pollution, noises, and obstructed views, and Plaintiffs have not alleged they suffer these harms in any personal, individual way," the court wrote. "Harms suffered by the public at large, like those Plaintiffs allege here, are to be remedied by the legislative and executive branches. If existing laws and regulations or their enforcement fail to protect the public from harm, it is incumbent upon the public to seek reform through their elected officials or failing that, at the ballot box."

The environmental groups didn't immediately comment on the ruling. In a statement, State Ports Authority president Jim Newsome said he was pleased with the ruling and that officials would continue to move forward with their plans for expansion.

Other legal challenges to the plans are still pending. Earlier this month, the State Ports Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dropped appeals of a federal judge's decision overturning a permit for the planned cruise terminal. They had been challenging U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's ruling that the Corps didn't adequately review the terminal's effects on the city's Historic District, sending it back for further governmental review.

Next week, Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph K. Anderson III takes up the matter of a challenge to pilings permit approved by the Department of Health and Environmental Control in 2012. Officials noted that the warehouse area has been an industrial and commercial area for centuries and putting in the five pilings for the terminal alone does not allow bigger ships or more ships.

___

Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 110621 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 -  Doug Chorney, president Keystone Agricultural Producers flight over South Western Manitoba to check on the condition of farming fields. MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
my2011poy
  • Hay bales sit under a rainbow just west of Winnipeg Saturday, September 3, 2011.(John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google