Diesel Home Port is Serious Health Threat to Hoboken's 60,000 Residents

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NYWW’s ferry home port for diesel refueling at Union Dry Dock would have a significant negative impact on the health of Hoboken’s 60,000 community residents, with one-third living within 200 feet of the proposed operation.

"Exposure to diesel exhaust can lead to serious health conditions, like asthma and respiratory illnesses and can worsen existing heart and lung disease, especially in children and the elderly." — EPA: News Release from Region 02/20/2018

A Home Port or Dry Dock?
In its permit applications to both the NJDEP and USACE, NYWaterWay has failed to accurately describe the full scope of its operations or future expansion, instead defaulting to UDD’s historic 1982 “dry dock” designation as a marine repair facility when in fact it would serve as an active ferry home port for maintenance and daily refueling of its fleet of 34 marine diesel ferries. 

By NYWW's own estimate (according to its NJDEP permit) there would be 80 ferry trips per day to UDD for refueling. That would make for 80 daily arrivals and 80 daily departures, or 160 incidents of diesel exhaust and particulates spewing from dirty T1 Marine Diesel engines. With 18-hour work days it would mean a diesel exhaust occurrence every 8 minutes, 7 days a week. Compare that with the former activity at UDD where residents at Maxwell Place testify to a few boats each week towed in for power washing or cleaning. 

Last January, UDD’s change in use as "home port" was clearly identified by the former NY/NJ Baykeeper, Deborah A. Mans, in a letter to James H. Cannon on January 8, 2018, she wrote:

"The proposed homeport will include fueling, sanitary wastewater removal, multiple vessel trips, maintenance, and storage of over twenty vessels. This is clearly not the same use as the existing dry dock and should not be considered under Nationwide Permit #3, which states in part (emphasis added):

The repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of any previously authorized, currently serviceable structure or fill, or of any currently serviceable structure or fill authorized by 33 CFR 330.3, provided that the structure or fill is not to be put to uses differing from those uses specified or contemplated for it in the original permit or the most recently authorized modification.”

With NYWW’s insistence on the historical “dry dock” classification, it failed to responsibly conduct site-specific and community impact studies such as:

  • Needs Analysis
  • Alternative Site Analysis
  • Baseline environmental assessments of: air, noise, water, wildlife, recreation, traffic, health and public safety
  • Sediment testing: documented legacy contaminants

The Health Impact Today of a Home Port on Hoboken's Waterfront
One of the most critical impacts and the least discussed in the debate on UDD are known health issues associated with diesel exhaust and particulates that are directly linked to asthma, bronchitis, other respiratory symptoms as well as cancer, and premature deaths. Children are particularly vulnerable to diesel marine exhaust known to cause asthma, a chronic disease and leading cause of school absenteeism.

With 160 daily incidents of diesel exhaust within 200 feet of Hoboken 20,000 Residents, people are certain to become ill as the studies have shown and quality of life will be compromised for all on Our Waterfront.

“According to a study performed in 2000 by the NJDEP and ABT Associates (“The Particulate-Related Health Benefits of Reducing Power Plant Emissions”), nearly 400 premature deaths, 16,000 asthma attack and 1,800 emergency room visits could be prevented each year by reducing soot emissions by 20 percent.”

Heavy-industrial Use of Hoboken’s Waterfront is a Thing of the Past 
Hoboken’s waterfront profile today reflects three decades of open space community development and enjoyed by its 60,000 residents as well as visitors from around the world who walk along Our Waterfront. Reintroducing heavy industrial use is not only retrogressive in light of global municipal support for resilient waterfront community development, but within Hoboken’s "Mile-Square" footprint would be socially irresponsible in the highest form.

The immediate community impact a diesel ferry home port would have at Union Dry dock, located within 200 feet and at risk to toxic health threats are:

  • 7,000 Paddlers: Hoboken Cove Boathouse, within 0 feet
  • 2,100 Families: Maxwell Place, within 200 feet 
  • 600 Toddlers: Preschool/Maxwell Playground, within 50 feet
  • 310 Residents/Students: Castle Point Terrace, within 200 feet
  • 6,617 Students: Stevens Institute, within 200 feet
  • 900 Faculty: Stevens Institute , within 200 feet
  • 900 Kids/Adults: Elysian Park, within 150 feet

Both the EPA and NJDEP acknowledge diesel exhaust poses one of the greatest risks of all air pollutants because diesel combustion releases soot which over time can accumulate in the lungs, yet the NJDEP ignored their own warnings and approved NYWW's permit that will impact 20,000 Hoboken Community members within 200 feet, without conducting any EIS.

NYWW falsely presented a site plan to the USACE with 10 boats being "serviced" at UDD, when the previously approved NJDEP site plans indicated 25 boats. The reality is, UDD would service all 34 boats and by NYWW's account amount to 80 trips per day or 160 diesel exhaust incidents per day exposing residents to high levels of pollutants on a daily basis.

With two active NYWW ferry slips, one at Hoboken North/14th Street four blocks from UDD and a second at Hoboken South/Lackawanna, the entire length of Hoboken's entire waterfront would be monopolized by NYWW ferry traffic.

We ask James Cannon/USACE to deny NYWW its work permit and work with Governor Murphy and our elected officials to locate an appropriate home port location as identified by NJTransit in its 2009 study for a diesel ferry and refueling facility

“There’s no safe level of exposure to smog and particulate pollution,” said Elizabeth Ridlington, a policy analyst with Frontier Group. “Even low levels of smog and particulate pollution are bad for health and can increase deaths.”