Port of Los Angeles says diesel exhaust down for fourth straight year

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New data from four air quality monitoring stations in and around the Port of Los Angeles show concentrations of elemental carbon in the port area air fell in 2010 for the fourth straight year, the port announced. Elemental carbon is used as an indicator of diesel particulate matter. The port says the drops in elemental carbon, to the lowest levels since it began monitoring in 2005, happened even as cargo volumes at the port have rebounded – in 2010 the port handled 16 percent more cargo than in 2009.

“I’m very pleased to be able to report that we are living up to our Clean Air Action Plan commitment – we pledged to cut port-related emissions by 45 percent, and these results show that for diesel exhaust we did more,” says Geraldine Knatz, port executive director.

The port says concentrations of another key air pollutant related to diesel exhaust, PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 microns in size), met federal and state standards for the third straight year, and for the first time PM10 (particles less than 10 microns in size) also met state standards (there is no federal standard for PM10).

Since 2005, the port has operated four air quality measurement stations: one in San Pedro, another in Wilmington, and two inside the port complex, including one in the middle of port operations. The stations are located so as to measure air quality both in the port complex and in the communities downwind of the port, where air quality is affected by emissions from the ships, trucks, terminal equipment, harbor vessels and train locomotives that move cargo through the nation’s largest container port.

The port says data from 2010 shows that elemental carbon concentrations in the air at the station in the midst of the cargo terminals has fallen by about 55 percent since 2006. The port says the decline at the community stations is smaller than at this in-port station because port sources make up a smaller fraction of the total emissions at the community stations, so that declines in port sources have less effect.

”This dramatic decline in the amount of DPM and the fact that we have attained air quality standards for both kinds of PM show how effective the measures we adopted in the Clean Air Action Plan are at reducing harmful air pollutants in neighboring communities,” says Chris Cannon, the port’s director of environmental management. “Every year shows an improvement over the previous year, making me very optimistic that we are going to achieve our Clean Air Action Plan goals.”

One of the Clean Air Action Plan measures is the port’s Clean Truck Program. The port says truck emissions, a substantial source of DPM in port-area air, have been reduced substantially by the Clean Truck Program. Since the program was launched on Oct. 1, 2008, the port has distributed more than $70 million to spur the purchase of more than 2,700 cleaner, newer trucks. There are currently more than 10,000 trucks serving the San Pedro Bay port complex that meet or exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2007 heavy-duty truck emissions standards.

Real-time data can be viewed at caap.airsis.com, and past filter-based data back to 2005 can be viewed at www.portoflosangeles.org/environment/air_quality.asp.