Thursday, April 8, 2010

Particle Pollution Down at Los Angeles Port for 3rd Year Running

Particulate air pollution generated by the Port of Los Angeles dropped for a third straight year in 2009, according to data released by the port Tuesday.

Sampling collected by four monitoring stations in the port area measured marked reductions in elemental carbon during 2009. Measurements of elemental carbon are used to estimate diesel particulate matter levels, a tiny particulate pollution that is most often seen as soot coming from exhaust pipes. DPM also contains known carcinogens and is considered by the state of California to be a toxic air contaminant. 

Elemental carbon was down 34 percent in the port-neighboring community of San Pedro and down 45 percent in the port-neighboring community of Wilmington, when 2009 levels at both locations were compared to 2006 levels. Measurements taken in the middle of the port during 2009 indicate that elemental carbon generation has dropped by 48 percent compared to 2006 levels. Numbers comparing 2009 measurements to last year were not readily available.

Measurements of PM2.5, an ultra-fine particulate air pollutant, also fell below federal and state maximum levels in 2008 and 2009--the first time since the port began monitoring air pollution in 2005.

”This dramatic decline in the amount of DPM and the fact that we have attained air quality standards for PM2.5 show that the measures we adopted in the Clean Air Action Plan are really working to reduce harmful air pollutants in neighboring communities,” said Christopher Patton, the Environmental Affairs Officer who heads the Port’s air quality staff.

Patton pointed to the port's Clean Truck Program as a main reason for the reduction of DPM. He also cited the state’s restrictions on the sulfur content of fuel used in vessels and equipment operated at the port, the Port’s Alternative Maritime Power program, and the San Pedro Bay Vessel Speed Reduction program as key measures the state and the port have used to tackle vessel emissions. The Port has also spent millions of dollars retrofitting cargo-handling equipment and harbor craft engines with pollution control devices, and pioneering the use of alternative fuels and power systems.

The reductions are also a clear-cut example of how industry and government have worked together to achieve air quality goals.

In each of the cited reasons, excluding the yard equipment retrofits, the shipping and transportation industries have paid the upfront costs for new cleaner equipment. The shipping industry also continued using low-sulfur fuel throughout 2009 despite a court ruling that held up the state regulation mandating its use for several months. The shipping industry also stepped up to the plate and voluntarily signed on to the Vessel Speed Reduction program and the Alternative Marine Power program.

Despite the monitoring stations recording a wide range of pollutants, such as oxides of sulfur, oxides of nitrogen and greenhouse gases, the port has yet to release a summary of the 2009 findings for these pollutants.