To repeat: 3.2 million yearly premature deaths worldwide are air-pollution related. An estimated 200,000 are in the U.S. Numbers have been on the upswing: none of which is good news. And the largest contributor of these deaths: transportation-sector-produced emissions, apparently.
Through my reading and research, one factor I found perhaps to be more influential than any other is diesel particulate matter.
In “Regarding air-pollution cleanup at the Port of Long Beach: A progress report,” I cited a relevant reference from the Fall of 2012 Port of Long Beach community newsletter known simply as the “re:port.” Below is the reference in question in its original form. It is from the article: “Port Initiatives Improve Air Quality Even More.”
“Diesel particulate matter is part of a complex mixture that makes up diesel exhaust, but it is arguably the most harmful to human health. Cutting diesel particulate matter from port operations has been one of the Port’s top priorities since the adoption of the Port’s Clean Air Action Plan in 2006. The state of California lists diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to increase the risk of cancer, premature death and other health problems.”
Added to this, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the “Executive Summary” of the “Second Report to Congress: Highlights of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program,” in no uncertain terms wrote: “EPA estimates that approximately 11 million older diesel engines remain in use, and will continue to emit significant amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) until they wear out and are replaced.”
Further on in the same report the EPA stated: “Long-term exposure to components of diesel exhaust including diesel PM and diesel exhaust organic gases, are likely to pose a lung cancer hazard.”
But diesel, of course, is not exclusive to the transportation sector only. It too finds application in agriculture (diesel-powered pumps) and construction (earth-moving equipment), for example. Back-up electrical power generators in some applications, meanwhile, rely as well on diesel-engine power.
From setback to success
When conditions sour, the word “setback” comes to mind, though, there is nothing written in stone saying setback can’t be turned into “success.”
Case in point: On Aug. 12, 2013, the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (ARB) in its news release “Shippers fined $440K for violating fuel regulation,” made quite clear: “The California Air Resources Board has fined three international shipping companies a combined $440,250 for failure to switch from dirty ‘bunker’ fuel to cleaner, low-sulfur marine distillate fuel upon entering Regulated California Waters, as required by state law.”
But, identifying an infraction and then imposing a penalty is but the first step in the “righting-the-ship” multistep process. The fact that the three identified violators agreed to not only pay the fines but make corrective changes from this point forward, well, that’s the “success” part.
“All three companies complied with ARB’s investigation and agreed to abide by all pertinent ARB regulations, follow fuel switchover requirements, and keep accurate records. The fines go to the California Air Pollution Control Fund to support air quality research,” the ARB explained.
On top of this is more good news.
In a POLB (Port of Long Beach [California]) news piece: “Port Eliminates 81% of Diesel Air Pollution: Report marks 6th consecutive year of air quality improvements,” it is written: “The Port of Long Beach has cut diesel particulates by 81 percent since 2005, according to an analysis released today. The results for 2012 mark six straight years of improving air quality in the harbor area thanks to the Port’s focused efforts to reduce air pollution caused by goods movement.”
Added POLB: “The reasons for air quality improvements include bigger ships carrying cargo more efficiently, newer ships with cleaner engines, the Jan. 1, 2012 deadline for full implementation of the Clean Trucks Program, increasing use of shore power, and a new low-sulfur fuel rule for ships that started in August 2012.”
In addition the Port cites statistics; statistics such as reductions in emissions of:
- nitrogen oxides (NOx) – 54%
- sulfur oxides (SOx) – 88%
- greenhouse gases – 24%
Noted also by the POLB in the same news report, the pollutant reductions, though, happened alongside a 10 percent drop in “containerized cargo activity” in the 2005-2012 reporting period.
Even so, the progress is still very encouraging.
Department of Corrections:
Original post title: “Port of Long Beach, California clamping down on air pollution cleanup efforts.”
Title revised to: “Port of Long Beach, California clamping down in air pollution cleanup efforts.”
– Alan Kandel