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Maritime air emissions decline sharply at Port of San Francisco

Maritime air emissions decline sharply at Port of San Francisco
Air emissions from the Port of San Francisco’s maritime operations have decreased sharply over the past eight years, according to a recent study released by the port.

The study compared maritime air emissions inventoried for 2013 to those for 2005. Annual particulate matter emissions, primarily produced by diesel engines and of concern due to direct health effects, have been reduced by more than half (57%).

In addition to the direct comparison of 2013 to 2005, an estimate of emission reductions due to shoreside power was made. The 2013 inventory does not reflect the contributions of shoreside power at Pier 27, home to the new cruise terminal that came on line last October, or Pier 70. An estimate of the additional effects of shoreside power at Pier 27 and Pier 70 indicates that in 2014, particular matter emissions likely were reduced 61% from 2005.

Port executive director Monique Moyer said the gains result from partnership with the mayor's office, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

She said the port has been able to maintain a healthy business climate while improving the environment.

The reductions result from shifts to cleaner fuels for ocean-going vessels and newer, cleaner-burning engines in tugboats and ferries, as well as the port’s $10m investment in shoreside power at two piers. Further reductions are expected in the future as even cleaner maritime fuels and engines are required and as shoreside power usage increases at the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27 and at the shipyard at Pier 70.

The port said it will quantify these additional reductions in its next air emissions inventory.

Maritime particulate matter emissions are down about 25 tons per year, according to Jay Ach, the port’s maritime manager of regulatory and environmental affairs. He said this is roughly the equivalent of taking a land-based power plant offline.

Reductions in other air pollutants include a 23% decline in nitrogen oxides and an 85% reduction in sulfur oxides.

Shoreside power is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year.