by Cosmo Servidio
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Mid-Atlantic Vibrant Ports – Healthy Ports workshop in Philadelphia. For me, having once worked for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, this event gave me an opportunity to see familiar faces but more importantly, to discuss a topic that is relevant and significant for the citizens of our region.
In EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, ports are continuing to gear up to accept Panamax-size ships, and these vessels can make quicker trips than ever before due to the widening and dredging of our seaports. For a “portee,” these types of innovations are exciting, but to individuals living in near-port communities, they may pose concern. Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. live within approximately three miles of a sea or inland port.
I know firsthand that ports can easily be described as “little cities” with a multitude of activities taking place 24/7. The chore of unloading and loading goods, moving literally tons of cargo around, and housing ships of all shapes and sizes does produce emissions. In turn, this may impact public health and the environment. That’s why EPA is working closely with our Mid-Atlantic ports counterparts to encourage efficiency and resiliency, wherever possible.
During the workshop, stakeholders from our port communities came together to discuss concerns and exchange information. A collaborative effort between EPA and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the workshop attracted approximately 60 attendees who spent the day engaged in panel discussions on community relations, tools for improving economic and environmental performance, and project funding sources, among others.
It’s especially fitting that this workshop was held during Children’s Health Month because nearly seven million children in the Mid-Atlantic Region count on us to ensure they have clean air to breathe.
I was pleased to acknowledge attendees from regional port terminals, as well as other state and local partners and community members with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work in the past.
This workshop demonstrated that we are committed to continuing our work with Mid-Atlantic port partners to help make our ports safer and cleaner “neighborhoods,” while growing their economic vitality.
Learn more about the Agency’s Ports Initiative here.
About the Author: Cosmo Servidio is the Regional Administrator for EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region.