By Mark Edward Nero
Lingering effects from ships at anchor during a period of traffic congestion in early 2015 had a negative effect on air quality at the Port of Long Beach last year, according to the port’s latest annual air emissions inventory, which was released Aug. 23.
The 2015 annual inventory of port-related air emissions, conducted by an independent consultant, found the port’s aggressive actions to curtail pollution have decreased diesel particulate matter by 84 percent since 2005, a slight decrease from the 85 percent reduction reported in 2014. Sulfur oxides were 97 percent lower, the same level reported in 2014.
Smog-forming nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gases were down 48 percent and 14 percent, respectively, compared to the 50 percent and 21 percent numbers, respectively, in the prior year.
Meanwhile, annual container traffic increased seven percent, or 296,000 TEUs, during the same period.
The numbers are comparable to those at the Port of Los Angeles, which released its own annual emissions report Aug. 18. At LA, overall, diesel particulate matter remained down 85 percent from all sources related to port operations, replicating a record set in 2014. Likewise, sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions were down 97 percent, nearing total elimination. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions were down 51 percent, one percent shy of the 52 percent reduction rate in 2014.
Long Beach officials attribute their port’s rise in emissions to an unusual number of vessels at anchor due to terminal congestion through the first quarter of 2015. While at anchor, ships use auxiliary engines to run essential systems instead of plugging into shore electrical power available at berth.
“The latest emissions inventory shows the effects of last year’s congestion and increased ships at anchor,” Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán said. “While we’ve had challenges, we continue to be committed to reaching our goal of zero-emissions operations.”
The annual emissions inventory is reviewed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board and South Coast Air Quality Management District.
The complete emissions inventory conducted by independent consultants can be found at www.polb.com/emissions.