By Valencia Wicker
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – The arrival of Carnival Cruise Lines into Charleston's harbor led the way for a legal battle between the City of Charleston, the Coastal Conservation League and neighborhood preservation groups. But, what lies beyond the civil suit is a fight built on principle.
The lawsuit against Carnival is a multi-claim suit. One of the claims looks to find Carnival's use of Union Pier Terminal illegal. Dana Beach, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League, says he has reason to believe Carnival Cruise Lines is illegally discharging waste into the harbor.
"Well, we don't know whether Carnival is discharging," said Beach. "But, like any business we need to monitor and we need to have parameters about how they operate."
Carnival Cruise Lines says it voluntarily dumps waste 12.9 miles away from Charleston's harbor – nearly 10 miles farther than required by federal law.
"That's probably far enough out enough that it's dispersed and diluted so much that we probably are not going to see any of it out here in Charleston. If we do, I'd be really surprised," said Vijay Vulava, assistant professor of environmental geochemistry at the College of Charleston.
The problem is, Carnival Cruise Lines does not make that information open to the general public or environmental groups like the Coastal Conservation League. The logs of where and what kind of waste the ships discharge are only made available to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Beach wants to see Carnival Cruise Lines make waste information public.
"CPW which treats our sewage in Charleston is monitored continuously everyday, all day. The records are available from DHEC, anyone can go see them. That's exactly the opposite of Carnival. You can't see the records, you don't know where they are discharging and they're basically saying ‘just trust us'," Beach said.
Mayor Joe Riley says he trusts the actions of the corporation and the monitoring of the Coast Guard whole-heartedly.
In fact Riley says, "I can't wait to get into court. And, to have the judge or judges start asking questions of the Southern Environmental Law Center about how they even came up with such preposterous allegations."