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California ARB Enacts New Port Measures: Mandatory Cold-Ironing and Crackdown on Older Diesel Trucks

Under the new regulations, cold-ironing (shore-based electrical power) is mandatory for certain types of vessels. Click to enlarge.

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) this week enacted two new measures that will significantly reduce diesel particulate matter pollution from ships and trucks throughout the state by 2014.

The first regulation requires operators of certain types of ocean-going vessels to shut down their diesel auxiliary engines while docked at the state’s busiest ports in favor of using shore-based electrical power (cold-ironing). The second regulation will require all drayage trucks in use at the ports in the state to meet 2007 emissions standards by 2014. The latter regulation in essence is designed to purge the port fleets of older, higher emitting diesel trucks.

ARB adopted strategies in December 2005 that require cleaner engines in cargo handling equipment and clean fuel on ships. Combined with the new measures this week, ARB regulations will reduce diesel particulate matter emissions from container and cruise ship terminals by almost two-thirds by 2010, and by an estimated 75% by 2014. Overall diesel soot emissions will decline by 1,800 tons per year in 2014.

Shore Power. The new regulation will require certain fleet operators of container, passenger and refrigerated cargo ships (“reefers”) to turn off their auxiliary engines—which power lighting, ventilation, pumps and other onboard equipment—while a ship is docked for most of its stay in port. The rule will affect almost 95% of the ship visits in these three categories. Once docked, operators would then be expected to receive their electricity from shore-based sources or meet percentage reductions through other means. Ports affected by the regulation are those most visited: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco and Hueneme in Ventura County.

A 2005 ARB exposure study at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach shows that more than two million people live in areas around the ports with predicted cancer risks of greater than 10 in a million due emissions from docked ocean-going vessels. From that study and other data, ARB estimates that about 61 premature deaths per year can be attributed to exposure to diesel exhaust generated from ships in port.

Container, passenger and reefer vessels call at California ports almost 6,000 times each year, accounting for nearly 85% of the emissions from all docked ships. In 2006, approximately 1.8 tons per day of diesel particulate matter and 21 tons per day of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) were emitted from the diesel-fueled auxiliary engines of docked ships. The regulation is expected to reduce diesel and smog-forming emissions from docked container, passenger and reefer ships by nearly 50% relative to levels otherwise expected to be emitted in 2014, and 80% by 2020.

Next year, ARB expects to introduce a similar rule that will reduce emissions from bulk ships, tankers and vehicle carriers.

Drayage trucks. ARB staff estimates that California has about 20,000 port (drayage) trucks that frequently visit the ports and rail yards and have the greatest impact on local air quality. Drayage trucks are a significant source of diesel particulate matter, contributing three tons per day statewide. With regards to the smog precursor NOx, port trucks emit 61 tons per day.

Phase one of the new regulation requires all pre-1994 drayage truck engines be retired or replaced with 1994 and newer engines by the end of 2009. In addition, trucks with 1994-2003 engines will need to be either replaced or retrofitted to achieve an 85 percent reduction in diesel particulate matter by the same deadline. The second phase of the regulation requires all drayage trucks to meet 2007 emissions standards by the end of 2013.

The rule also requires compliant trucks working at the 14 ports and 11 rail yards affected by this regulation to be entered into a special registry by late 2009. (Affected ports are Benicia, Crockett, Hueneme, Humboldt Bay (Eureka), Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Redwood City, Richmond, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Stockton. Affected intermodal rail yards are: Oakland Union Pacific (UP) and Oakland Burlington (BNSF); Hobart BNSF; LATC UP; Commerce UP; Commerce Eastern BNSF; Richmond BNSF; ICTF UP; San Bernardino; Stockton Intermodal BNSF; and Lathrop Intermodal UP.)

Next year, the Board will consider a similar measure which will focus on reducing emissions from in-use private heavy duty diesel truck fleets.

The regulation is expected to reduce diesel particulate matter emissions from drayage trucks from baseline 2007 levels some 86% (2.6 tons per day) by 2010. Emissions of NOx are expected to be reduced from 2007 baseline levels by 62 percent (42 tons per day) by 2014.

ARB estimates that the proposed regulation will prevent 1,200 premature deaths from 2009 through 2020, with benefits being the most dramatic in the communities where port trucks are heavily concentrated.

In addition to substantially helping local communities, the port truck regulation, if passed, will help the entire Los Angeles region meet federally mandated air quality standards by 2014. In terms of greenhouse gas, it will help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 55,000 - 89,000 tons per year (3 - 5%). The shore power regulation is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by roughly 40% by 2020, equivalent to about 200,000 tons per year.

Long-term exposure to diesel exhaust increases the risk of developing lung cancer and respiratory disease, and can cause premature death.




This is pretty big news in terms of Air quality.


I'm no a big fan of ARB, but I see this as a pretty good idea. I suppose its success relies on how easy and cost-effective it is for ships to cold iron. Otherwise, I suspect they could just dock in Mexico.


What it also means is that the older diesel trucks will appear all over the rest of the country.

Rafael Seidl

Cold-ironing typically depends on an on-shore generator running on a clean fuel such as LNG or else, a temporary connection to the electricity grid. This does sharply reduce PM and sulfur emissions from commercial ports.

The downside, other than the additional infrastructure, is that ships can no longer use the waste heat from their auxiliary engines to keep their bunker fuel and main engine block and oil from cooling down too much during the relatively rapid loading and unloading process. Therefore, ships that feature (retrofitted) auxiliary engines running on natural gas, DME or other clean-burning fuel should not be compelled to hook up to on-shore electricity.

@ Eric -

drayage trucks are specialty equipment. Most likely, the old ones will be sold to ports elsewhere in the world.


Responding to Eric, Rafael Seidl wrote: "drayage trucks are specialty equipment. Most likely, the old ones will be sold to ports elsewhere in the world."

The trucks that are covered by the just-approves CARB rule are not specialty equipment -- they are normal heavy-duty trucks that could be pulling any kind of trailer. The trucks that are too old for use in the ports might find new lives in another application, state or country, where they will possibly replace an even older, dirtier truck.

There are separate CARB rules that cover the specialty port equipment, like the yard hostlers/yard goats/yard tractors, the top picks, and the side picks.


It should be possible to use an electric heater running from grid power to warm the engine coolant. You'd then pump it around the usual coils and channels to keep the main engine block unfrozen and the bunker fuel uncongealed.



It's been a while since I worked in the engine room of a large ship, but they were not using the waste heat from diesel generators for heating bunkers.


This is why under nafta the world shippign industry is building massive ports in mexico. connected to the USA via the trans texas corridor system being built in texas as we speak. this avoids 2 problems well 3, 1. teamster unions at american ports, mexicans will unload a boat for 1/4 the cost, 2. mexicos lack of eco freeks means no greenie laws to bother with. 3. once its on mexican trucks its shiped up north. remember mexican trucks just got permission to cross in to the USA and drive on our roads to thier destination. mexican trucks dont have to meet our emmission laws or wage rates here again there drivers will work for a lot less than americans. you just have to love globalism.

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