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Air Quality

Reducing the impacts of goods movement on human health and the environment is a top priority for the Port of Long Beach. Sources of port-related emissions include ocean-going vessels, heavy-duty trucks, harbor craft, cargo-handling equipment and railroad locomotives that emit diesel particulate matter (DPM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx), all of which have been known to affect human health and contribute to the formation of smog.

Since 2005, the Port has cut diesel particulates by 81 percent. In addition, nitrogen oxides were down 54 percent and sulfur oxides were down 88 percent over the same period. These results, from data collected through 2012, represent six straight years of improving air quality in the harbor area.

Air Quality 101 – What are DPM, NOx, and SOx?
  • DIESEL PARTICULATE MATTER – Diesel particulate matter, or DPM, is a part of a complex mixture that makes up diesel exhaust. DPM has been identified as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death, and other health problems.
  • NITROGEN OXIDES – Nitrogen oxides, or NOx, are a group of highly reactive gases produced during the fuel combustion process. NOx reacts to form ground-level ozone and smog, and can contribute to respiratory problems.
  • SULFUR OXIDES – Sulfur oxides, or SOx, are gases formed when fuel containing sulfur, such as coal and oil, is burned. SOx can form particulates in the air and can contribute to respiratory problems.
Port-Related Sources of Air Emissions
Harbor Craft
Cargo-Handling Equipment
Air Quality Programs
  • CLEAN AIR ACTION PLAN – In 2006, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles together adopted the landmark Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP). The CAAP, which was updated in 2010 (2010 CAAP Update) was developed in coordination with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 9, the California Air Resources Board, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The CAAP focuses on strategies to reduce health risk to communities surrounding the ports and targets significant reductions in diesel particulate matter (DPM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur oxides (SOx).
  • SAN PEDRO BAY STANDARDS – The 2010 CAAP Update includes the addition of the San Pedro Bay Standards that represent the health risk and emissions reduction goals for the ports through the year 2023 compared to 2005 levels:
    • Health Risk Reduction Standard
      • By 2020, reduce port-related cancer risk by 85%.
    • Emissions Reduction Standard
      • By 2014, reduce DPM emissions by 72%, NOx by 22%, and SOx by 93%; and support attainment of the federal fine particulate matter (PM2.5) standards.
      • By 2023, reduce DPM emissions by 77%, NOx by 59% to support attainment of the federal 8-hour ozone standard, and SOx by 93%.
  • TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENT PROGRAM – The Technology Advancement Program (TAP) aims to identify, evaluate, and demonstrate new and emerging emission reduction technologies for the port industry. The goal is to accelerate verification and commercial availability of clean technologies. Proven technologies and demonstration projects evaluated under the TAP are used to support the goals of the CAAP.
  • CLEAN TRUCKS PROGRAM – The Port of Long Beach's ambitious Clean Trucks Program has reduced air pollution from harbor trucks by more than 90 percent in a little over three years. In 2012, the program banned permanently the last remaining older, more polluting trucks from Port terminals. Today, all of the 11,000 drayage trucks servicing the Port terminals are 2007 or newer models.
  • GREEN FLAG PROGRAM – The Port’s Green Flag Program is a voluntary vessel speed reduction program that rewards vessel operators for slowing down to 12 knots or less within 20 or 40 nautical miles of Point Fermin (near the entrance to the Harbor). By reducing ships’ speeds as they approach or depart the Port, the ships use less fuel, which in turn prevents more than 1,000 tons of air pollutants and 45,000 tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the air each year. 
  • Operators that participate in the program and achieve a 90% or higher compliance rate at the 20 or 40 nautical mile level in one calendar year may earn dockage rate reductions for calls made in the following calendar year.  In 2013, 98% of vessels reduced their speeds within 20 nautical miles of the Port and 89% reduced their speeds within 40 nautical miles.  In 2013, the Port awarded approximately $2.8 million in dockage savings to participating vessel operators that met the 90% compliance requirement at either the 20 or 40 nautical mile level in 2012.  
  • For more information, see the Fact Sheet.
  • GREEN SHIP INCENTIVE PROGRAM – The Port rewards ship operators that bring the newest, cleanest ships to the Port of Long Beach. The Green Ship Incentive Program gives financial incentives to ships meeting the international Tier 2 engine standards, which emit 15% fewer NOx emissions than the current fleet, and Tier 3 standards, which emit 80% fewer NOx emissions. Since launching in 2012, the program has eliminated more than 20 tons of ship-related NOx emissions.
  • SHORE POWER – The Port has been a leader in requiring ships to plug into the electrical grid and turn off their auxiliary engines while at berth, a process known as "shore power." Since 2006, the Port has required shore power through its Green Leases, and it continually seeks out opportunities to increase the use of shore power beyond regulatory requirements. The Port currently has shore power at four berths, including the world's only shore power-capable tanker facility. By 2014, the Port will outfit all of its container terminals with shore power in preparation for state regulation requirements. Plugging in one container ship for one day is the equivalent of taking 42,000 cars off the road.
  • CLEAN AIR ACTION PLAN AWARDS – Each year, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles acknowledge achievements of port tenants and operators who demonstrated during the previous calendar year, a strong commitment to reducing air pollutant emissions from port-related sources beyond CAAP compliance levels. Real-time air monitoring
  • ANNUAL AIR EMISSIONS INVENTORIES – Each year, the Port of Long Beach conducts an inventory of air emissions from port-related sources. Comparing to a CAAP baseline year of 2005 and using the latest data and methodologies, the annual emissions inventories serve as the primary tool for the Port to track the progress of implemented CAAP measures and air quality regulations to reduce air emissions from ocean-going vessels, heavy-duty trucks, cargo-handling equipment, harbor craft, and railroad locomotives.
  • AIR QUALITY MONITORING – The Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles each operates an air quality monitoring network which collect continuous data on ambient air quality and meteorological conditions in the San Pedro Bay region.
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