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Ports to Jointly Monitor Air Quality

December 29, 2005

The rival ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which face common air quality challenges, have tentatively agreed to a milestone accord to establish a coordinated air quality monitoring network. 

“We don’t have a wall between the ports separating our air quality problems, so it only makes sense for us to work together to find the answers,” said Robert Kanter, the Port of Long Beach’s planning and environmental affairs director. “A joint monitoring effort will provide more extensive data about the quality of the air in and around the ports, which, in turn, will help us focus our air quality improvement efforts.”  

“As both ports expand their environmental efforts, we need air quality data that is compatible with region-wide data collected by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and other agencies,” said Ralph Appy, environmental management director at the Port of Los Angeles. “A collaborative air quality monitoring program will provide the clearest picture of the extent that port-related operations impact the quality of the air we breathe.”

If approved by the Long Beach and Los Angeles harbor commissions, the Memorandum of Agreement would call on the two ports to coordinate air monitoring from four existing stations in and around the Port of Los Angeles and at least two stations under development in Long Beach.  The MOA is scheduled to go before the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners on January 5.  The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is set to act on the MOA at its meeting January 9.

Under the terms of the proposed MOA, the two ports, which spearhead separate air quality programs, would share sampling data and analyses using regulatory-agency approved methods.  The monitoring program initiated in late 2004 at the Port of Los Angeles was designed around federal EPA protocols, and its sampling results are used by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.  The Los Angeles program will be modified to offer sampling criteria identical to the program being developed by Long Beach, and it will offer real-time results just as the Long Beach program.

With international trade booming, air pollution from the many ships, trucks and trains at the ports has become a major concern.  Harmful pollutants from these sources include particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.

Long Beach and Los Angeles, which have a long history of competing intensely for maritime business and international trade, have cooperated on environmental issues affecting San Pedro Bay.  The cooperative efforts have ranged from water quality initiatives to wildlife preservation and enhancement efforts.

Increasingly in recent years, the ports’ cooperative environmental focus has been to improve air quality through a range of strategies that include locomotive fleet replacement; vessel speed reduction programs, vessel shore-side power (“cold-ironing” or Alternative Maritime Power) standardization efforts, emissions inventory; and the introduction of cleaner diesel fuels and exhaust cleanup devices for cargo-handling equipment.

The latest effort brings together two separate programs. In February 2005, the Port of Los Angeles began monitoring particulate matter. On December 19, the Port of Long Beach launched development of its own air monitoring project, which calls for monitoring of parameters including particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.  

Under the new MOA, both ports would share air monitoring information with each other and environmental regulatory agencies. They also will post the information to their web sites, www.polb.com and www.portoflosangeles.org, so that the public can monitor their progress.

The result of this cooperative program will be an enhanced understanding of air quality conditions in the San Pedro Bay area and better communication of that information to the public.


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