EPA Administrator tours SeaPoint Complex, gives update on rule impacting bar pilots

WTOC received an update on what is touted to become the site of a major, long-term economic...
WTOC received an update on what is touted to become the site of a major, long-term economic driver for Savannah.(WTOC)
Updated: Oct. 28, 2020 at 10:50 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - WTOC received an update on what is touted to become the site of a major, long-term economic driver for Savannah.

The SeaPoint Industrial Terminal Complex, which sits off East President Street, hosts more than 600 acres of develop-able land, and is projected to generate billions of dollars in annual economic impact.

WTOC toured the site today, along with the Administrator of the EPA and other local leaders.

When the last company operating at this site shut down after filing for bankruptcy in 2009, it took with it more than a thousand jobs.

It also left behind a sizable environmental cleanup.

Reed Dulany, with Dulany Industries, Inc. said “The EPA and EPD recognized that allowing an impacted site to lie fallow due to ineffective processes mired in red tape does not help the environment or the community. So instead they positively supported this new, proactive approach which has resulted in a remediated site ready for beneficial re-use, accomplished in a matter of years.”

The environmental remediation of the site is expected to be complete two years ahead of schedule, and two million dollars under budget.

It’s an accomplishment Dulany credits to the partnership between environmental regulatory agencies, and private industry, that will ultimately benefit the area with manufacturing and logistics jobs.

Dulany said, “What we need is more high-wage jobs, which generally come with the manufacturing sector.”

Andrew Wheeler, Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, toured the site today and said what’s been accomplished could be a model for other industrial complexes around the country.

“This was certainly an example of local government working with the developer here, the state and the EPA to an extent, but a large part is my understanding was the state...to get this site redeveloped and revitalized and ready to support new jobs in the economy," said Administrator Wheeler.

The cost to clean up the site and prepare it for development is estimated to be around 36 million dollars.

The EPA Administrator also made an announcement that will in some ways impact ship traffic in and out of the Port of Savannah.

Wheeler said new national diesel engine regulations were putting ship pilots tasked with guiding massive container ships in and out of the Port of Savannah at a disadvantage.

Wheeler says there are not enough engine manufacturers making the type of diesel engine now required for the pilot boats.

So the EPA recently implemented a new rule that gives bar pilots more time to acquire the new Diesel engines, streamlines the engine certification process and allows for pilots to use a less restrictive engine for a short time in new vessels for another two to four years.

“This regulatory relief comes at a critical time. This rule ensures that bar pilots in Savannah can get the boats they need to do their jobs. Without this change, pilots could’ve been forced to scale back their critical work, which is required for every ship to enter and exit the Port of Savannah," said Wheeler.

Not taking action, Wheeler said, would have had potentially devastating impacts on pilots and overall commerce.

“I thank the EPA Administrator for coming to Savannah to see how important this regulatory relief is for our ports and bar pilots,” said U.S. Congressman Earl “Buddy” Carter (GA-01). “Without this action, the pilots could have been forced to scale back their critical work that is required for every ship to enter and exit both the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick. This would have been devastating for our ports. Now, the pilots will be able to keep traffic moving until boat-builders are able to meet the standards.”

"This rule provides bar pilots and boat builders the flexibility they need to meet EPA standards, said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “By working together with states and the marine industry, EPA’s rule will ensure bar pilots are able to continue to provide critical support and services to the Port of Savannah.”

Finalized in August, the amendments addressed the lack of available certified Tier 4 marine diesel engines for use in certain high-speed commercial vessels. This final rule provides much needed regulatory relief to boat builders and manufacturers of lightweight and high-power marine diesel engines. Specifically, this action will benefit America’s hardworking lobster fishermen and pilot boat captains, who rely on these engines for safe and productive operations in their high-speed commercial vessels.

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