Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Long Beach Port Study Shows Significant Cuts In Port-Area Pollution

The latest annual analysis of pollution reduction efforts at the Port of Long Beach has shown a 72 percent decline in port-area diesel particulates between 2005 and 2010. The document, released Monday by port officials, also marks the fourth straight year that the port-funded annual analysis has detailed significant reductions in port-generated pollution.

The annual "emission inventory" showed dramatic reductions in all major pollutant categories compared to 2009, including all three particulate matter categories, the oxides of sulfur category (SOx) and the oxides of nitrogen (NOx) category.

Diesel particulate matter (DPM) was down 42 percent in 2010 compared to 2009 levels, PM10 levels were down 41 percent and PM2.5 levels were also down 41 percent. Particulate matter, the largest of which is most clearly seen as soot in engine smokestacks, is linked to various respiratory problems. The three categories cover increasingly smaller particulates, with PM2.5 being the smallest, and according to most respiratory health officials, that with the most serious impact of the three on human health.

Port-generated SOx levels in 2010 were down 52.5 percent compared to the previous year, and 2010 NOx levels were down 17.1 percent. SOx and NOx are both related to various respiratory ailments. NOx is also a precursor of smog.

The nearly 350-page port analysis also compared 2010 port-area pollution levels to 2005 levels--the year the port's first emissions inventory was compiled. This comparison attempts to provide a pre- and post-picture of the impacts on pollution reduction afforded by the port's ongoing omnibus environmental program--the Clean Air Action Plan--which was implemented in 2006.

The port's 2010 DPM levels have fallen 72 percent from 2005 levels, while PM10 and PM2.5 levels have both fallen 70 percent.

The port's 2010 SOx levels have dropped 73 percent since 2005 and 2010 NOx levels in the port-area are 46 percent lower than those seen in 2005.

The emissions inventory analyzes port-area emissions from forklifts, locomotives, ships, trucks, tugboats and other equipment that move cargo at the port.

The inventory's results were reviewed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

“We’re seeing the benefits of the hard work by the Port and the entire goods movement industry to reduce air pollution and to be better neighbors to the community,” Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Susan Anderson Wise said. “And we’re not finished. We are continually exploring new practices and technologies to improve air quality in the harbor to benefit the entire region.”

The primary contributing factors to the major reduction, according to the inventory, was the ubiquitous use of lower-sulfur fuels by all waterfront equipment – but especially the ocean-going ships – and the continued phasing out of the oldest trucks under the port's Clean Trucks Plan that began in 2008.

Other factors include an expansion and high compliance rate of a voluntary vessel speed reduction program where most ships slow down to reduce air pollution within 40 miles of the Port, and the continued changeover of yard equipment and the port-servicing Pacific Harbor Line locomotive fleet.

The full 2010 emissions inventory is available on the port website at www.polb.com.