North Carolina International Terminal (NCIT)
In early 2006 the North Carolina State Ports Authority (NCSPA) conceived its proposal for a North Carolina International Terminal (NCIT) to be created on property just north of the town of Southport, NC.
The mission of the NC Ports Authority “is to enhance the economy of the State of North Carolina” and as such the Port Authority states that “North Carolina has a historic opportunity to bring jobs, investment and economic growth to the state and its citizens through the NCIT.”
To realize this proposed potential, the NCSPA purchased, at a price of $30 million, 594 acres of undeveloped land on the Cape Fear River near Southport that is bound on the north and west by property of the Progress Energy Nuclear Plant and bound on the south by property of the Archer-Daniels-Midland chemical processing plant. Four-hundred and thirteen of the 594 acres are designated as marsh, 86 of which are salt marsh. An additional 27 acres are considered inland wetlands. Preliminary plans call for paving approximately 400 acres of the 594 total.
Supporters of this plan include Governor Perdue, the Army Corps of Engineers, the International Longshoremen’s Association and NCSPA.
Opposition includes six communities in the lower Cape Fear region (Southport, Caswell Beach, Bald Head Island, Saint James, Boiling Springs Lakes and Oak Island), the United States Fish and Wildlife Commission and United States Congressman Mike McIntyre.
The North Carolina State House voted in June 2010 to prohibit any further funding of the NCIT proposal in its 2011 budget. The State Senate quickly followed suit.
After having declared a hold on their pursuit of the NCIT on July 21, 2010 in the face of public and political opposition, NCSPA board chairman Carl Stewart stated that he and the Port Authority Board remain committed to continue pursuing the NCIT proposal at the Southport site in the future.
In the summer of 2011, a series of stakeholder meetings were held by AECOM, a consulting firm conducting the NC Maritime Strategy study, to determine support for the NCIT.
Click here for NCIT Considerations PDF, Tom Hancock, Ph.D.
The Bald Head Island Conservancy will continue to monitor developments concerning the NCIT and provide input at appropriate times. Please scroll down to read the Conservancy’s NCIT proposal review and associated position statement.
The BHI Conservancy does not support construction of or further concept investments in the proposed International Terminal near Southport, North Carolina for the following reasons:
• Environmental risks associated with this project are immense and include:
a. Destruction of wetlands
b. Fragmentation of habitat
c. Alteration of habitat
d. Increases in noise, air, light, and water pollution
e. Destruction of species including organisms listed as endangered or threatened
f. Saltwater intrusion into the fresh water aquifer
g. Increase in erosion
h. Potential for increase in storm surge damage
i. Increased probability of invasive species introduction
j. Conflicts with recreational uses and loss of cultural resource.
• The substantial economic impacts for the region, state and nation including job creation, increases in tax revenue and attraction of new residents and businesses are based upon a business plan (CH2M Hill, Inc.) with unsupported assumptions and exclude the negative impact on jobs and revenue related to destruction of sensitive natural resources.
• The proposed NCIT is a very large scale project that would negatively impact the character of the lower Cape Fear area from a tourist, recreation and retirement based economy, linked to the scenic and productive environmental resources, to one based upon shipping and transport.
• These and similar concerns have also been raised by the following entities: NC Wildlife Resources Commission, NC Department of Cultural Resources, NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, US Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
• Construction of the NCIT in close proximity to the Progress Energy Nuclear Plant, Archer-Daniels-Midland chemical processing plant, the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point, and the communities located in Southport and Oak Island provides an exceptional terrorist target and therefore a huge security concern. Impacts on these resources would not only affect human concerns but could have catastrophic impacts to the environmental resources, the current source of jobs and revenue for the region.
Given the above array of problems, questionable economic benefits, and competition from larger East Coast ports; the North Carolina legislature would be well advised to end consideration for the port and pursue economic development that supports natural resources, like wetlands to protect from storms, and promotes established industries like fishing and tourism.
The Bald Head Island Conservancy will continue to evaluate data produced in relation to the NCIT, its associated costs and benefits and communicate this information to the Conservancy’s constituents.