Port Emissions Down at POLB as Throughput Rises

Long BeachIllustration; Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

Another San Pedro Bay port managed to maintain lower levels of emissions even though its container traffic rose 11 percent in 2017. 

The Port of Long Beach (POLB) is continuing to outperform 2023 clean air goals for diesel particles and sulfur oxides, even while cargo volumes have jumped to record levels, according to a study of port-related air pollution emissions.

The 2017 annual “emissions inventory” found the port’s actions to curb pollution have cut diesel particulates by 88 percent, sulfur oxides by 97 percent and nitrogen oxides by 56 percent since 2005, the baseline year which emissions are measured against.

The Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) set 2023 reduction targets for diesel particulates at 77 percent, sulfur oxides at 93 percent and nitrogen oxides at 59 percent.

“The port has already made dramatic reductions in emissions, but we will not be finished or satisfied until we achieve our community health, air quality, and long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals,” Tracy Egoscue, Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President, commented.

“What’s especially impressive about these results is our container traffic has grown by more than 12 percent since 2005,” Mario Cordero, Port of Long Beach Executive Director, said.

“The port’s efficiency in moving containers measured by tons of emissions per twenty-foot equivalent unit has improved by 23 percent since 2005. We are moving more cargo and creating more jobs with lessened environmental impacts,” Cordero added.

Greenhouse gases, which were not targeted for reduction in the original Clean Air Action Plan, were nevertheless curtailed by 18 percent in 2017 compared to 2005. However, the reduction is less than the 22 percent the previous year. Port officials attributed the change to increased cargo volumes and ship visits, however, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions per TEU unit moved is down.

The Port of Long Beach’s efforts to improve air quality have included the Clean Trucks Program, the adoption of shore power for container ships and the port’s Green Flag Vessel Speed Reduction Program. Additionally, the port’s future Pier B On-Dock Rail Facility will be the centerpiece of a program to increase the use of on-dock rail for greener operations.

Another San Pedro Bay port, the Port of Los Angeles, has also met all of its 2023 CAAP goals. Diesel particulate matter (DPM) remains down 87 percent, and sulfur oxides (SOx) are down 98 percent. Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a key component of smog, are down 60 percent compared to 2005 emissions levels.

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