Air pollution associated with operations at the Port of Los Angeles is at its lowest level since the port adopted a formal plan to reduce emissions nearly seven years ago, according to the latest emissions data.
The Port’s 2012 Inventory of Air Emissions shows a 79 percent drop in diesel particulate matter (DPM) over a seven-year period that began in 2005.
Removing cargo volume fluctuations from the equation, the 2012 Inventory shows that the amount of DPM emissions related to moving 10,000 20-foot containers through the port in 2012 was 81 percent lower than the emissions output related to moving the same number of containers through the port in 2005.
For 2012, 6 percent of all sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions throughout the South Coast Air Basin — which includes portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties and all of Orange County — was attributable to operations at the port. This is a sharp decline from 25 percent in 2005.
Likewise, DPM emissions from the port are now at 4 percent, compared with 10 percent in 2005, and NOx emissions have fallen to 3 percent from 5 percent in 2005.
The port’s Inventory of Air Emissions tracks the progress of several clean-air measures, requirements and incentives to reduce emissions from all sources associated with port operations: ships, trucks, trains, cargo-handling equipment and smaller harbor craft. The latest findings are based on data from the 2012 calendar year and compared with data collected annually since the baseline year of 2005.
In addition to exceeding the Port’s 2014 goal for DPM, a toxic contaminant and known carcinogen, the latest data shows a record plunge in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and SOx, which have fallen 56 percent and 88 percent, respectively, since 2005. The results exceed the port’s 2014 goal for NOx and put the port closer to its goal to cut SOx emissions 93 percent by 2014.
For SOx alone, 2012 marked the greatest reduction in a single year since 2005, says port executive director Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D. The SOx findings are significant because they reflect progress in tackling vessel emissions. Ships remain the biggest generators of port-related air pollution and they pose the greatest challenge because they are a mobile source regulated by international convention.
To verify its progress, the port does a separate calculation that accounts for fluctuations in cargo activity. Container volumes have increased 8 percent since 2005, even with the recent global recession.