New data shows air pollution associated with operations at the Port of Los Angeles is at its lowest level since the California port adopted a formal plan to reduce harmful emissions nearly seven years ago.
The port’s 2012 Inventory of Air Emissions shows aggressive clean air strategies—launched in 2006 and expanded over time—have set new records. Results include a 79% drop in diesel particulate matter (DPM) over a seven-year period that began in 2005.
Removing cargo volume fluctuations from the equation, the 2012 report shows the amount of DPM emissions related to moving 10,000 20-foot containers through the port in 2012 was 81% lower than the emissions output related to moving the same number of containers through the port in 2005.
“Every year really does count, and our systematic approach has accelerated our progress,” said Cindy Miscikowski, Los Angeles Harbor Commission president. “Much of the credit is shared by our industry partners who have invested in technology that in some cases surpass government regulations.”
The port’s overall success continues to be reflected in the dwindling share of emissions its activity contributes to the South Coast Air Basin. This region is home to 14.6 million people and takes in portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties and all of Orange County.
For 2012, 6% of all SOx (sulfur oxide) emissions throughout the basin was attributable to operations at the port—down from 25% in 2005. Likewise, DPM emissions from the port are now at 4% compared with 10% in 2005, and NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions have fallen to 3% from 5% in 2005.
The Inventory of Air Emissions tracks the progress of a suite of clean air measures, requirements, and incentives to reduce harmful emissions from all sources associated with port operations. These include ships, trucks, trains, cargo-handling equipment, and smaller harbor craft. The latest findings are based on data from the 2012 calendar year and compared with data collected annually since the baseline year of 2005.
Besides exceeding the 2014 goal for DPM, the latest data shows a record plunge in emissions of NOx and SOx, which since 2005 have fallen 56% and 88%, respectively. The results exceed the port’s 2014 goal for NOx and put it within striking distance of its goal to cut SOx emissions 93% by 2014.
To verify its progress, the port does a separate calculation that accounts for fluctuations in cargo activity. Container volumes have increased 8% since 2005, even with the recent global recession.
Based on that calculation, the clean air gains the port achieved in 2012 are even greater. On a ton per 10,000 TEU (20-ft equivalent unit) basis, the port slashed DPM emissions 81%, NOx emissions 59%, and SOx emissions 89%.