Shipping firms fined for not switching fuels

Companies fined for failing to switch to cleaner-burning distillates in Californian waters.

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Updated on 13 Aug 2013 07:02 GMT

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has fined three international shipping companies a combined $440,250 for failure to switch from intermediate fuel oil to cleaner, low sulphur marine distillate fuel upon entering regulated California Waters, as required by state law.

"Ships en route to California ports emit thousands of tonnes of diesel exhaust each year," said ARB Enforcement Chief Jim Ryden. "Our regulation requiring ocean-going vessels to switch to cleaner fuel within 24 nautical miles of our shoreline protects all California residents, especially those in port communities, from this air pollution."

An ARB investigation claims that on 17 visits to California ports between November 6, 2009 and July 18, 2011, the vessel Hoegh Inchon operated its main engines within regulated California waters on intermediate fuel oil. The parent company, Hoegh Autoliners Shipping AS Co. of Oslo, Norway, was fined $299,500.

In February 2013, prior to docking at the ports of Stockton and Long Beach, the Ikan Bawal was cited for failing to switch its engines over to the required cleaner fuel while operating within California waters. Its owner, N.C.N Corporation Panama, was fined $87,750.

In August 2012, after it docked at the Port of Los Angeles, the vessel K-Pluto was also cited for failing to switch to the required cleaner fuel while operating within California waters. Its parent company, Twin Phoenix Shipping S.A. of Singapore, was fined $53,000.

The ARB said that all three companies complied with its investigation and agreed to abide by all pertinent regulations, follow fuel switchover requirements, and keep accurate records. The fines have been allocated to the California Air Pollution Control Fund to support air quality research.

The ARB conducts over 500 ship inspections each year, checking for proper fuel usage, record keeping and other compliance requirements, and takes marine gas oil or marine diesel oil samples for submission to the ARB laboratory to ensure they meet California standards for sulphur.

Compliance rates with the ARB’s Ocean-going Vessel Regulation, adopted in 2008, are said to be very high, hovering around 95 percent. It is claimed that the measure eliminates 15 tonnes of diesel particulate matter– a known carcinogen - daily from ocean-going vessels’ exhaust. The regulation is considered a vital tool in helping to reduce cancer rates and premature deaths for those who live near the state’s busy ports and trade corridors.

"ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health-based air quality standards," the ARB said.