Long Beach to test ship emissions-control technology
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has agreed to fund a $2 million pilot test of a mobile, barge-mounted emissions-control system for cargo ships at berth. The new technology would provide an alternative to shore power, allowing ships to run their engines to produce the power they need for lighting, communications, pumps, refrigeration and other functions.
The "Alternative Maritime Emissions Control System" (AMECS), developed by Rancho Dominguez-based Advanced Cleanup Technology, Inc., diverts a docked ship's emissions into an air-pollution filter-and-treatment device. Under the agreement, the local South Coast Air Quality Management District will supervise the testing on behalf of the port.
The Long Beach Port Authority has been working with ACTI since 2006 on developing the technology. An earlier, wharf-mounted version was known as "sock on a stack" due to the large bonnet that was lifted by crane and placed over the smokestacks to capture emissions. The new system uses a direct connection to a vessel's exhaust outlets.
On Jan. 1, California began requiring container, refrigerated cargo and cruise ships to plug into electric shore power while at berth to reduce air pollution. However, the shore power regulations only apply to about a third of the port's 300 vessel calls a month, according to the port authority.
The Port of Long Beach has invested more than $185 million for dockside power hookups. Shore power can cut source emissions by 95 percent. California law requires 50 percent of fleet calls to use shower power by 2014, with the number rising to 70 percent in 2017 and 80 percent in 2020. Also, each carrier that calls a port must reduce its total emissions by 50 percent by shutting down its auxiliary engines and plugging into landside electric power, with compliance rates rising through the end of the decade. Additionally, if a ship is currently equipped for shore power and a shore power-ready berth is available, the ship must plug in to shore power.
Under the Shore Power Regulation, the adjacent ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are treated as one port.
"We want to become a zero-emissions port, so I look forward with particular interest to see how the AMECS technology performs," Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond said in a statement.
Emissions from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has been a highly charged local issue for more than a dozen years because of the health effects of large concentrations of sulfur oxides, particulates, nitrous oxides and other chemicals that result from the burning of diesel fuel by trucks, locomotives and cargo-handling equipment, and bunker fuel used to power ships. Long Beach has made significant progress since 2005, cutting diesel particulate pollution by 81 percent and sulfur oxide pollution by 88 percent through a mandate for modern engines in trucks serving the port, retrofitting equipment and other programs.
The Clean Air Action Plan approved by the two ports set a goal to find alternative technology to reduce air pollution from ships not covered by the state's shore power regulation.
A final contract among all the parties must still be signed.
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