"Cold Ironing" Technology Cuts Diesel Ship Pollution in Port of Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (June 21, 2004) - The Port of Los Angeles today unveiled the world's first electrified container terminal where ships can plug into dockside power while at berth -- a practice called "cold ironing" -- instead of continuously running their dirty diesel engines to generate electricity.
Ships at berth in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach annually generate more than 4,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide pollution, according to a recent report commissioned by the Port of Long Beach, contributing to the extremely poor air quality of San Pedro and Wilmington. Residents in those communities are plagued by acute and chronic respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, and suffer some of the highest cancer risk in the region.
The cold ironing system at the new China Shipping Line terminal is expected to eliminate more than 3 tons of nitrogen oxides and 350 pounds of diesel particulate matter for each ship that plugs in. The system is attracting attention around the world.
Cold ironing fulfills part of a legal settlement negotiated by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment and two San Pedro homeowner groups (San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition and San Pedro Peninsula Homeowners United), who sued the Port and City of Los Angeles in 2001 alleging they had approved the China Shipping Line terminal without considering or mitigating harm to neighboring communities.
The settlement, approved last week by Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs, also requires the port to use dock tractors that run on cleaner, alternative fuels instead of diesel; to evaluate the feasibility of cleaner marine fuels; to install shorter cranes when the terminal expands; to analyze the aesthetic impact, if any, of standard-sized gantry cranes; to establish a $50 million fund for mitigation of air quality and aesthetic impacts in the community, including $10 million to clean up old trucks; to allocate an additional $3.5 million for development of parks and open space in San Pedro; and to create a procedure for evaluating the use of aesthetic mitigation funds that includes approval by the Port Community Advisory Committee.
The environmental and community groups today congratulated China Shipping, Mayor Hahn, City Council member Janice Hahn, and the Board of Harbor Commissioners for their hard work to make the China Shipping terminal green. They also emphasized that this was only the first step in a long journey to green the port's many terminals.
"The China Shipping terminal demonstrates that ports don't have to pose a threat to public health," said Gail Ruderman Feuer, a senior attorney at NRDC and lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "This is the first time I've smelled clean air at a container terminal, and I hope it's the way of the future. Only when we see cold ironing and clean trucks being used at every terminal will we restore the hope of clean air for all L.A. residents."
Together, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the single largest source of air pollution in Southern California, emitting as much diesel exhaust as 16,000 tractor-trailers idling their engines twenty-four hours a day. Economists expect cargo throughput at the two ports to triple within 20 years.
"These ports are America's gateway to Asia, which means they'll be growing rapidly for a long time to come," said Todd Campbell, policy director at the Coalition for Clean Air, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "However, growth cannot come at the expense of our environment and public health. Today we're unveiling a tool that will help us keep pollution in check without stifling economic expansion."
Cold ironing technology has been used by naval vessels, cruise ships and ferries, but this is the first use ever for container ships. Applying cold ironing to container vessels is one of the many recommendations in Harboring Pollution: The Dirty Truth About U.S. Ports, a report published in March by the Coalition for Clean Air and NRDC. The report grades the environmental practices of the nation's top ten container ports and outlines ways to improve them. A companion report to be released next month provides detailed recommendations for greening ports.