Emissions at historic low while cargo at historic high at the Port of Los Angeles

By Curious

The Port of Los Angeles achieved record clean air gains while moving more cargo than ever, according to the Port’s 2016 Inventory of Air Emissions. Released last week, the annual report also shows the Port surpassed its 2020 goal for reducing the health risk of emissions from port-related activity.

“Our ports are the engines that power our economy, and they can also be the forces that drive our region toward a greener, healthier future,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “These outstanding results are a powerful demonstration of how we can continue making our air cleaner even as we move record amounts of cargo at the Port — and I’ll keep pushing for continued progress toward the goal of zero emissions goods movement at the ports.”

Emissions at historic low while cargo at historic high at the Port of Los Angeles
Image courtesy of Port of Los Angeles

“The 2016 report validates the benefit of our clean air strategies in combination with improved operational efficiency,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “We’re proud of the extraordinary progress we’ve made reducing emissions since 2006, and we’re determined to do more in the years ahead.”

Calendar year 2016 marked the Port’s highest reduction of all key pollutants. Since the Port’s baseline inventory in 2005, diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions have fallen 87 percent, sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions have plummeted 98 percent, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions have dropped 57 percent.

During the same period, the Port moved more than 8.85 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), maintaining its ranking as the Western Hemisphere’s No. 1 container seaport and surpassing the Port’s earlier record of nearly 8.47 million TEUs set in 2006. The 2016 peak represents an 18 percent increase in cargo since the 2005 baseline inventory.

DPM emissions are also used to assess health risk. The Port met its 2020 goal in 2014 when it lowered DPM emissions 85 percent. With an 87 percent reduction in health risk in 2016, the Port continues to exceed its 2020 goal.

“As emissions decline and cargo throughput rises, chipping away at what’s left gets tougher,” said Port Director of Environmental Management Chris Cannon. “The 2016 report reflects tremendous strides we’ve made with the help of all our industry and community partners.”

Highlights of Results

A closer look at the numbers reveals the extent to which 2016 was a banner year for the Port’s air quality improvement gains. From 2015 to 2016 alone, pollution is down 13 percent for DPM, 10 percent for NOx and 14 percent for SOx.

On a per TEU basis, the 2016 findings are even more remarkable. For every 10,000 TEUs handled at the Port complex, DPM emissions are down 89 percent, NOx is down 63 percent, and SOx is down 98 percent. Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are also at their lowest – down 28 percent – for every 10,000 TEUs.

The latest findings are based on data collected during calendar year 2016 and reviewed by regional, state and federal air regulatory agencies. The inventory is a detailed report card documenting the impact of all strategies for curbing every source of port-related emissions: ships, locomotives, trucks, cargo handling equipment and harbor craft.

Full implementation of the Port’s strategies under the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), compliance with government air quality regulations, and improved operational efficiencies worked in concert to achieve the 2016 gains. Operational efficiencies include a chassis pool serving the entire complex, advanced planning for the largest ship calls, and additional measures that vessel operators, terminals, railroads, trucking companies and other Port partners collaborated on and adopted to prevent the congestion that slowed cargo during late 2014 and early 2015.

Substantial progress in reducing emissions from ships played a key role in the 2016 results. Factors include the ongoing trend of fewer vessel calls due to bigger ships carrying more cargo, fleet compliance with California’s shore power regulations for an entire year without congestion, and an increased use of alternative emissions capture technology when plugging into shore-side electricity is unavailable.

Increased compliance with cleaner vessel fuel regulations, continued participation in the Port’s Vessel Speed Reduction Program, and growing participation in the Port’s voluntary Environmental Ship Index program also led to clean air progress. The latter offers incentives that encourage vessel operators to bring their cleanest ships to Los Angeles and demonstrate new onboard pollution reduction technology.

Going forward, the Port is aggressively pursuing new clean air measures while cargo throughput continues to rise. The Port is continuing its focus on reducing health risk and criteria pollutant emissions, especially NOx, while increasing efforts to reduce GHGs. To accomplish this, the Port is working with its industry partners to implement near-zero and zero tailpipe emissions strategies. These include expanding demonstration projects to test zero emissions drayage trucks and launching new projects to test near-zero and zero emission yard tractors and zero emissions top handlers for which the Port has secured funding from the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission.

The increased emphasis on GHG is reflected in the proposed 2017 CAAP Update, which sets new targets for reducing GHG emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. A joint document of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the 2017 CAAP is available at http://www.cleanairactionplan.org for public review and comment through Sept. 18. Commissioners from both ports are slated to hold a joint meeting to consider the final version in November.

The Port of Los Angeles is America’s premier port and has a strong commitment to developing innovatively strategic and sustainable operations that benefit Southern California’s economy and quality of life. North America’s leading seaport by container volume and cargo value, the Port of Los Angeles facilitated $272 billion in trade during 2016. San Pedro Bay port complex operations and commerce facilitate one in nine jobs in the five-county Southern California region.

Source: Port of LA