The Environmental Effects of the Proposed Megaport

Neither the North Carolina State Ports Authority nor any other State agency has examined the potential environmental impacts of the proposed North Carolina International Terminal. These reports have been prepared with private funding.

Click here for a report prepared by Dr. Michael Mallin of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Click here for a summary report of environmental consequences.

Brief Fact Sheets

Comments of Government Agencies about Environmental Effects of the Port

The Threat to the Castle Hayne Aquifer

Beach Instability at the Mouth of the Cape Fear River


Air Pollution 

Protester at Port Newark

The most frightening environmental issue with the proposed North Carolina International Terminal is air pollution. The vessels calling at the port will have diesel engines of up to 100,000 horsepower burning the most inexpensive and dirty fuel available, and also will have auxiliary diesel engines to provide power. The plans for the port do not include shore power for ships, so the auxiliary diesels would run the entire time a ship is in port.

To move the containers to inland destinations, 4400 trucks and 30 locomotives would move through eastern Brunswick County each day. Although by the time the container terminal opens for business new emissions regulations will have come into force, those regulations will reduce emissions, not eliminate them.

Diesel engines emit a complex mixture of air pollutants, comprising gaseous and solid material. The visible emissions in diesel exhaust are known as particulate matter or PM, which includes carbon particles or “soot.” Diesel exhaust also contains a variety of harmful gases and over 40 other known cancer-causing substances. In 1998, California identified diesel PM as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death, and other health problems. Those most vulnerable are children whose lungs are still developing and the elderly who may have other serious health problems. Each year in California, diesel PM contributes to 2000 premature deaths and thousands of hospital admissions, asthma attacks and other respiratory symptoms, and lost workdays. Overall, diesel engine emissions are responsible for the majority of California’s known cancer risk from outdoor air pollutants. In addition, diesel soot causes visibility reduction and is a potent greenhouse agent involved in global warming.

Health Effects of Diesel Particulate Matter

A report of the California Air Resources Board

Although diesel exhaust is a problem in any industrialized or urbanized area, air pollution and resulting health effects have been more pronounced in the areas around ports.

US Container Ports and Air Pollution: A Perfect Storm

A study of the ten largest US container ports

Hazardous to Our Health: The Human Impact of Port Truck Pollution on Truck Drivers and Residents in New York and New Jersey