Cargo-related emissions drop in Los Angeles

Port officials attribute the emissions reduction to the use of cleaner fuels in cargo ships.

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Updated on 07 Jan 2009 09:40 GMT

Despite only a one-percent drop in cargo volumes from 2006 to 2007, air pollution from cargo-related operations at the Port of Los Angeles during 2007 dropped markedly in key pollutant categories, according to the port’s 2007 Inventory of Air Emissions.

Port officials attribute the emissions reduction to the use of cleaner fuels in cargo ships (mandated by a 2007 California Air Resources Board rule) as well as truck-related idle reduction and clean fuel measures implemented as part of the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP). The CAAP was approved in November 2006 by the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbor Commissions.

In comparison to 2006 emissions inventory, 2007 saw a 34-percent decrease in Sulfur Oxide (SOx) emissions, a nine-percent decrease in Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions, and a 20-percent decrease in Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) emissions. Year over year greenhouse gas emission levels also dropped between eight and 11 percent in 2007.

“This is good news, but these figures are still not an accurate reflection of the emission reductions we will achieve through full implementation of our five-year Clean Air Action Plan,” said Harbor Commission President S. David Freeman. “In future inventories, those CAAP reductions will become more apparent.”

The reductions in calendar year 2007 emissions are even more remarkable given the 61-percent increase in cargo volumes between 2001 and 2007. During that period, SOx emissions have decreased by 40 percent and particulate matter emissions dropped by 11 to 13 percent below 2001 levels – reductions that are significantly ahead of the 2011 CAAP estimated emission reduction targets.

“The trend since our 2001 emissions inventory shows that we are lowering port-related health risks and doing our part to clean the air in the L.A. basin,” said Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D.

“We’re on the right track in terms of our ‘green growth’ strategy for advancing port development while reducing harmful emissions from ships, trucks, locomotives and other mobile sources in the Port.”

The port’s share of basin-wide emissions also continued to drop in 2007, with SOx emissions (predominantly from cargo vessels) down to 22 percent from 27 percent in 2006, and NOx emissions down to five percent from six percent year-over-year. DPM decreased to nine percent in 2007 compared to 11 percent in 2006.

Goods movement operations through the San Pedro Bay Ports collectively make up the largest single source of air pollution in the Los Angeles Basin. The CAAP includes innovative strategies to reduce emissions from ocean vessels, trucks, trains, cargo handling equipment and harbor craft by nearly 50 percent by 2012.