The California Air Resources Board said March 3 that it has fined the China Navigation Co. $129,500 for failing to switch its engines over from heavy diesel “bunker” fuel to cleaner, low-sulfur fuel when close to the California coast, as required by state law.
The case originated in December 2012, CARB says, when one of its inspectors found that the vessel Chenan, managed by the China Navigation Co., operated within regulated California waters – i.e. 24 miles or less from the coast – on noncompliant heavy fuel oil on 12 separate days (four voyages) between Aug. 5 and Dec. 28, 2012, while en route to and departing from the Port of Los Angeles.
China Navigation, according to CARB, took “prompt action” after being notified of the violations and cooperated with the investigation. In addition to paying a fine, the company agreed to comply with all fuel switchover requirements and to keep accurate records going forward.
“Ships using heavy diesel fuels are a significant contributor to California’s air quality problems, even in communities located far from our coast,” CARB Enforcement Division Chief Todd Sax said. “That’s why we check vessels nearly every day to ensure that they are compliant with our strict clean air laws. When we identify a violation, we educate the fleet owner and crew on how to comply with our requirements, and we assess penalties as a deterrent to future noncompliance.”
The Air Resources Board says it conducts 800 to 1,000 ship inspections each year, checking for proper fuel usage, record-keeping and other compliance requirements. Part of the inspection involves sampling each vessel’s fuel, and analyzing the fuel sample for compliance with fuel sulfur requirements.
The state’s Ocean Going Vessel Fuels Regulation was adopted in 2008.