Environmental Protection

Years of work have gone into constructing the shore power infrastructure needed to comply with the California Air Resources Board

California Ports Ready for At-Berth Regulation

The California Air Resources Board approved the "Airborne Toxic Control Measure for Auxiliary Diesel Engines Operated on Ocean-Going Vessels At-Berth in a California Port" regulation six years ago. It aims to cut emissions from diesel auxiliary engines on container ships, passenger ships, and refrigerated-cargo ships while they're berthed at the California ports.

Years of work have gone into constructing the shore power infrastructure needed to comply with the California Air Resources Board’s "Airborne Toxic Control Measure for Auxiliary Diesel Engines Operated on Ocean-Going Vessels At-Berth in a California Port," known as the At-Berth Regulation, which requires that at least half of all container ships berthed at the ports to shut down their diesel engines and run on shore-side electricity beginning Jan. 1, 2014. It applies to the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Hueneme.

For the most part they're ready for the new requirement and have received assistance from the state of California or DOT's Maritime Administration. The Port of Oakland completed its construction in November 2013, and port officials said then that they already have reduced maritime-related diesel particulate emissions by 70 percent. This port is spending about $70 million overall on the infrastructure; the U.S. Maritime Administration and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District contributed $12.8 million to it.

The Port of Long Beach announced in October that it is ready to meet the deadline. "With three months to go, we've completed the landside testing at all but two of the 12 berths," Acting Chief Harbor Engineer Sean Gamette announced Oct. 21 at the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting.

Ships generate more than 60 percent of the emissions from port operations, said Rick Cameron, then the port's acting managing director of Environmental Affairs & Planning. "Since 2006, we've made huge progress in cutting emissions from trucks, trains, and cargo-handling equipment, and we've made a major dent in curbing vessel pollution," he said. "But the requirement to plug in at berth will be a game-changer."

The Air Resources Board approved the regulation in December 2007. It gives vessel fleet operators visiting the ports two options to reduce at-berth emissions from auxiliary engines: 1) turn off auxiliary engines and connect the vessel to some other source of power, most likely grid-based shore power; or 2) use alternative control techniques that achieve equivalent emission reductions.

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