Port Releases 2015 Pollution Study
Reveals impacts of terminal congestion on last year’s air quality
August 23, 2016
Pollution around the Port of Long Beach has been dramatically cut over the last decade, however, according to the latest study, lingering effects from ships at anchor in early 2015 impacted air quality last year.
The 2015 annual inventory of port-related air emissions, conducted by an independent consultant, found the Port’s aggressive actions to curtail pollution have decreased diesel particulate matter by 84 percent since 2005, a slight decrease from the 85 percent reduction reported in 2014. Sulfur oxides were 97 percent lower, the same level reported in 2014. Smog-forming nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gases were down 48 percent and 14 percent, respectively, compared to the 50 percent and 21 percent numbers, respectively, in the prior year. Meanwhile, annual container traffic increased 7 percent, or 296,000 TEUs, during the same period.
Port officials attributed the rise in emissions to the unusual number of vessels at anchor due to terminal congestion through the first quarter of 2015. While at anchor, ships use auxiliary engines to run essential systems instead of plugging into shore electrical power available at berth.
“The latest emissions inventory shows the effects of last year’s congestion and increased ships at anchor. Thanks to labor and shipping partners, we cleared the backlog quickly,” said Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán. “While we’ve had challenges, we continue to be committed to reaching our goal of zero-emissions operations. We are steadfast in our commitment to improving air quality for the region now and over the long term as evidenced by our recently approved $46 million mitigation grant program.”
The Port’s efforts to improve air quality since 2005 have included the Clean Trucks Program, low-sulfur fuel regulations for ships, increased use of shore power for cargo ships and the Port’s Green Flag Vessel Speed Reduction Program. The cleaner air is lowering risks in surrounding areas for cancers and other serious illnesses such as asthma and chronic lung disease. The Port remains focused on continued reductions through increased use of on-dock rail, use of advanced technologies, and joint efforts with Port of Los Angeles on Supply Chain Optimization and development of the next update to the Clean Air Action Plan.
The annual “emissions inventory” is reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board and South Coast Air Quality Management District. The Clean Air Action Plan, initially created in 2006 and currently entering the third iteration of the Plan, outlines strategies to significantly reduce pollution from ships, locomotives, trucks, terminal equipment and harbor craft that move cargo.
For the complete emissions inventory conducted by independent consultants, go to www.polb.com/emissions.