West Coast Ports Tackle Pollution

A $2 billion San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan has been approved by the governing boards of the U.S.-based ports with the aim of reducing pollution in the global seaport area by 45% over the next five years.

The plan represents a significant step by the nation’s two largest ports that move 40% of the country’s containerized cargo, representing more than $260 billion in trade each year.

Among other measures to be taken is a move to phase out what the ports call “dirty” trucks, and to replace them with the new diesel trucks presently being mandated by the federal government beginning in January 2007. The ports will also establish tough, measurable goals for improvements in air quality while issuing recommendations aimed at eliminating emissions of ultra-fine particles.

Ocean vessels are not left out of the mix. Ships will have to reduce speed when entering or leaving the harbor region, to use low-sulfur fuels and employ a variety of emission-reduction measures and technologies.

The ports will spend hundreds of millions of dollars for air quality programs and make use of what are called, “pollution-based fees so that polluters pay their part to improve air quality.”

For its part, the world’s eighth largest ocean carrier, APL, is working with the ports as well as the California Air Resources Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and four California-based air quality management boards to test new fuel emulsification technology that holds the promise of reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from its ships by as much as 20%. APL is undertaking other innovative measures aimed at cutting down exhausts from ocean-going container ships.

At Canada’s Vancouver, in order to encourage ships calling on the Port there will be lower fees if they burn cleaner fuel. Among a host of other measures is enforcement of a no idling policy on port lands to reduce emissions from trucks lined up for pickup or delivery of cargo.

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