SEATTLE - Protesters dressed as polar bears and dolphins and holding up orca signs gathered outside a cruise company convention in Pioneer Square on Wednesday.
They’re protesting a new terminal that will allow more and bigger cruise ships to access Seattle.
Terminal 46, mostly used now for cargo, stretches along the waterfront from Pioneer Square to the Stadium District, taking up 86.5 acres of land.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman said it’s among the most valuable waterfront space along the entire West Coast and developers are knocking at the door.
“We can make money doing that too, but my view is that the working waterfront should stay working in maritime. And this, to me, is why we’re doing this,” Felleman said.
The Port wants to turn more than 1/3 of the space (or 29 acres) into a terminal for cruise ships.
The Cruise Connect convention displayed information about the project, but was mostly an event to bring cruise companies together with local businesses.
Protestors from Stand.earth and 350 Seattle and residents in the area chanted outside.
“Big cruise ships, don't be mean, dumping sewage is obscene,” they said.
“We don't want another cruise ship terminal. Because more cruise ships means more air pollution, more water pollution, more climate pollution,” said Jim Ace, one of the organizers with Stand.earth.
The cruise industry is booming in Seattle, and brings about $900 million annually into the economy. .
The 2019 season set a record for Seattle and the Port said 2020 is expected to top this year.
But it says Seattle is out of space for all the ever-larger ships that want to come here.
“It’s growing every year and every time a cruise ship comes to Seattle, it's $4.2 million into the economy. So it's a tremendous impact,” said Stephanie Jones Stebbins, the managing director for the Port of Seattle Maritime Division.
Felleman said Terminal 46 is currently underutilized.
“Right now, you go by there and it is vacant and that is maybe good for some folks, but it's troubling to me. When we have longshore and other folks not working there,” Felleman said.
He said to balance out costs of other projects – like work being done at Terminal 5 – Terminal 46 needs to bring in revenue.
Protesters said the economic boon comes at too high a cost.
“Money isn't going to help you when there's no maple trees, when there's no clean water, air, when there's no fish,” said Valentina Warner, a protester who is a Seattle native.
“Seattle would be exporting the cost to the rest of the world, to sea life and our kids futures,” Ace said.
The Port says it has strict policies in place to keep this port green.
“We are very much committed in the Port of Seattle to have the cleanest operation in the country,” Felleman said.
“The standards we set here can help bring the whole industry up and that's certainly my hope,” Jones Stebbins said.
The project is in its very early stages.
There's a third public scoping meeting about it on Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m. at The Foundry, 4130 1st Ave. South, Seattle.
Public comment for the environmental scoping period ends on Nov 13. You can comment here or email SEPA@portseattle.org.
Then there will be a full environmental impact study.
The Port’s goal is to have the project done in 2023.
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