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Environmental Group CA Earth Corps Praises LB Port & Gateway Cities Council of Gov'ts Move To Reduce Port Related Diesel Emissions...And CA Earth Corps Suggests Add'l Measures

(July 19, 2002) -- CA Earth Corps, an area environmental group that has warned of the dangers of PM-10 (small particulate) pollution from diesel sources, has praised the Port of LB and 27 southeast L.A. County cities in the Gateway Cities Council of Governments (Gateway COG) for agreeing to implement programs (details below) focused on reducing diesel emissions from vehicles serving the Port.

Headed by veteran local environmentalist Don May, CA Earth Corps went on to propose six additional methods it said would significantly reduce port emissions.

"We are absolutely delighted to see the POLB [Port of LB] taking the lead in proactively addressing this problem," Mr. May said in his laudatory email, adding that CA Earth Corps has "identified six different cost effective approaches that would drastically reduce port emissions." posts CA Earth Corps' email to the Port of LB verbatim below.

Mr. May praised the Port of LB for $4.7 million in projects that will be undertaken aimed at reducing emissions from diesel engines on vehicles serving the Port. The Port of LB's governing Harbor Commission and the Gateway COG have agreed to use $1 million grants provided by the CA ARB, in addition to $1 million in matching funds from the Port of LB and $1.75 million from the Gateway COG via a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant.

A Port of LB press release said in part, "The money will be used to fund qualified projects such as the modification or replacement of existing diesel-fueled equipment, including port-owned vehicles and tenant owned equipment. Among the technologies being considered are alternative fuel vehicles as well as after market technology modifications. A device similar to a catalytic converter could be installed on tenant-owned yard tractors to cut emissions by as much as 30 percent."

The release quoted 3d district Councilman (and newly named Vice Mayor) Frank Colonna as saying, "This kind of partnership leverages resources to reduce emissions, clean the air and benefit the greater good of the entire region." Also quoted is Port of LB Executive Director Richard Steinke, who said "As well as promoting trade, the Port of Long Beach has a responsibility as an environmental steward. We are doing everything we can to improve air quality." has put a live link on our front page (left side links) to hourly updated LB air pollution readings from the the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). AQMD's LB readings come from a monitor in the 3600 block of Long Beach Blvd. and provide readings for carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and PM-10. To view our page with hourly updated LB air pollution readings, click here.

The CA Air Resources Board (ARB) considers PM-10 a danger to human health, especially for children and the elderly. Last month, in tightening some of CA's PM-10 standards. ARB chair Dr. Alan Lloyd said "these particles seriously impact human health, particularly infants, children, the elderly and those with existing heart or lung problems."

CA's ARB considers 50 micrograms of PM-10 per cubic meter of air the maximum allowable 24-hour average PM-10level. LB's PM-10 24 hour average levels (at AQMD's Bixby Knolls monitoring site) in early July were roughly 30 micrograms per cubic inch. AQMD's data indicate 24 hour average figures, meaning each hourly AQMD PM-10 reading on the graph below (a blue line with "X"s near 25-30 point on the graph) is a rolling average of the past 23 hours.

In a release explaining its reasons for tightening some PM-10 standards, CA ARB said:

These particles are so small they can by-pass the body's defenses and lodge in the lungs. One 10-micron particle is one-seventh the size of a human hair. ARB calculations show that statewide attainment of the new standards would reduce premature deaths by approximately 6,500 per year...

The potential health impacts from exposure to particulate matter are significant, especially to sensitive populations. The health effects associated with PM exposure include: premature mortality, increased hospital admissions for cardiopulmonary causes, acute and chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks and emergency room visits, respiratory symptoms, and days with some restriction in activity.

In its December, 2001 I-710 Major Corridor Study "Purpose and Need Statement," the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in cooperation with the Gateway COG, CalTrans Dist. 7 and the So. Cal Ass'n of Gov'ts specifically noted among problem issue areas:

"...Air Quality: As shown by recent Air Quality Management District (AQMD) studies, populations within the I-710 Study Area are regularly exposed to toxic air contaminants that increase carcinogenic risk. A major source of these air toxins is diesel particulates, which is considered to be a local source air pollutant. About half of the diesel particulate matter in the South Coast Air Basin as reported by AQMD (1998) is caused by emissions from vehicles using the freeway and roadway system. Heavy-duty diesel trucks are the leading contributor to on-road sources of diesel particulates

...Environmental Justice/Equity: The I-710 Study Area contains a high number of minority and low-income populations that require special consideration under federal environmental justice guidelines. Proposed transportation improvements should be equitable and should distribute benefits and burdens fairly.

We post verbatim below a July 16, 2002 email from CA Earth Corps to the Port of LB.

[begin text]

We are absolutely delighted to see the POLB taking the lead in proactively addressing this problem. California Earth Corps has long advocated such a program to reduce the port's contribution to airborne diesel particulates; surely the #1 health and environmental problem in the South Coast Air Basin. We will work with you any way we can to make this program successful.

We have identified six different cost effective approaches that would drastically reduce port emissions:

1) Biodiesel fuels. Transesterification of soy and/or rapeseed oil can virtually eliminate particulate emissions, although with some "NOx Penalty". We believe that it is minor when compared with reductions in deaths from COPD and cancer. California Earth Corps produces and sells (below our costs) 100% biodiesel marine fuel for $1.50/gal. at the Sausalito Marina. While this is just for small craft, it does demonstrate feasibility. We would like to do the same in Long Beach. There is a large inventory of local unused or underused refining capacity to support large scale production for large scale diesel engines, we believe at reasonable costs, producing more jobs and local revenues. These large scale diesel engines now utilize high sulfur bunker oil that discharge far more particulates/horsepower and far more toxic particulates than the refined diesel fuels used in vehicle and small 2 cycle engines. Inbound ships could switch to biodiesel fuels on approach to POLB without much efficiency penalty. Even a low sulfur fuel or blended partial biodiesel fuel mandate would help, could be accomplished immediately and may facilitate transition to particulate free emissions.

2) Catalytic converters, even for large scale diesel engines, are available. Mandates are coming; subsidy could make transition to compliance faster. A pilot program is needed.

3) Bag houses have long been required to control particulate emissions from stationary sources and can be readily retrofitted to ships to interdict particulate emissions. Polyester (Gortex) sandwich bags for filtering out bunker oil residues are available albeit more expensive. Wide spread use would reduce costs just like it did for stationary sources.

4) Scrubbers and recyclers for special applications are often cost effective.

5) Diesel emissions are highest when idling at no load; shutting down diesel engines and switching to shore power while hoteling would drastically reduce emissions and provide entrepreneurial opportunities for power conversion and supply.

6) There are times and locations where conversion to non diesel power is practicable or justified by the offset savings in reduced health care costs. Health cost figures from Kaiser Permanente suggest that current diesel emissions from container ships cost $1,000 to $1,500 per TEU. These potential saving provide the opportunity for funding transition to more healthful air for everyone. But even a cursory look at the MATES II map shows that Long Beach and the Gateway Cities who suffer the greatest insult will reap the greatest health benefit.

Our profound thanks to Executive Director Steinke and the Long Beach and Gateway Cities staff and officials who have taken these first steps toward a more healthful environment. California Earth Corps would like to help move this program along in any way that we can. has previously posted a link to AQMD's 2001 MATES-2 (Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study) including a map indicating parts of the L.A. basin (including LB) that it says have a higher airborne cancer risk than refinery adjacent southbay areas. To view our coverage, click AQMD MATES-2 study.

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