APL Launches $11 Million Clean Air Project in Oakland

Dec. 21, 2009
APL is launching an $11 million clean air project to cut vessel emissions and improve air quality at the Port of Oakland. The project will be based on cold-ironing.

Global container shipper APL and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District have announced an $11 million project to cut vessel emissions and improve air quality in the city of Oakland, Calif., starting in 2010.

With $4.8 million in air quality grants, APL says it will retrofit its terminal and vessels to begin cold-ironing next December at the Port of Oakland. Cold-ironing refers to turning off a ship’s 2,000 horsepower diesel generators at berth and connecting instead to electrical sources ashore. This enables vessels to maintain power in port while eliminating exhaust emissions.

Cold-ironing will cut more than 50,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides emissions—a leading component of smog—from ships berthed in Oakland and 1,500 pounds of particulate matter annually.

Starting this month, APL will begin outfitting five vessels that call regularly in Oakland for cold-ironing. Late next summer, APL will launch a four-month construction project to electrify berths at its Global Gateway Central marine terminal in Oakland. When that work is completed, cold-ironing will begin.

Cold-ironing is considered one of the most effective ways to curb emissions from vessels at port and improve coastal air quality. Regulations mandating cold-ironing in California take effect in 2014.

“Diesel emissions from port operations have a serious health impact in the West Oakland community,” says Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. “APL is getting a head start to reduce emissions well before the state deadline.”

The Air District will fund two grants being provided to APL. They include:

  • $2.8 million to electrify berths at Global Gateway Central. The funds are from the Goods Movement Bond Program.
  • $2 million to equip the first three container ships for cold-ironing. The funds are from the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program.

It’s estimated that cold-ironing can eliminate 1,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides emissions, 165 pounds of sulfur oxides and 30 pounds of particulate matter in a single 24 hour port call. The vessels APL will retrofit make a total of 52 calls to Oakland annually.

APL employs up to 250 people a day at its Oakland marine terminal. That number could increase in 2010 if economic recovery spurs a jump in trade growth. Cold-ironing is seen as an effective way to curb the environmental impact of growth.

“This project makes growth sustainable for our port communities,” says Broadbent. “That’s why we support APL and hope that others in the industry will follow suit.”

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