Charleston, SC - Newer, cleaner engines and cleaner fuels have helped reduce total pollutants from port equipment and trucks, according to an air emissions inventory commissioned by the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA). The inventory, which measured all port-related emissions in the tri-county region during the year 2011, is a follow-up to the port's first-in-the-region baseline study that quantified 2005 levels.
"Our voluntary air quality commitments include tracking and sharing progress over time," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCPA. "More recent efforts, including new international fuel standards as well as efforts by the maritime community mean that our air quality continues to show improvement."
The inventory included analysis of emissions of six criteria pollutants from trucks, trains, cargo-handling equipment, ships and tugs and spanned an approximately 2,500-square-mile area.
Key findings of the report included:
- Total port-related levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC) were reduced by 29 percent, 51 percent and 26 percent respectively from 2005 levels.
- Emissions related to the SCPA's cargo-handling equipment demonstrated double-digit reductions for all criteria pollutants, including a 60 percent reduction in NOx, a 57 percent reduction in particulate matter (PM) and a 99 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide (SO2).The SCPA began using ultra-low sulfur in all lifting equipment in 2007, three years ahead of the federal mandate for non-road equipment. Additionally, the SCPA was selected to receive federal grants to partially fund the repower of 21 rubber-tired gantry cranes and 35 full container handlers, replacing older Tier 0 engines with new Tier III models on the equipment.
- Emissions from long-haul and drayage trucks calling the SCPA's facilities similarly have made major air-quality strides, with reductions in all six criteria pollutants. Through a combination of SCPA idle-reduction efforts, upgrades in the fleet and fuel content changes, truck emissions have been reduced between 58 percent (PM) and 98 percent (SO2).
The release of the air report comes on the heels of the renewal of the SCPA's long-term and voluntary agreement with the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to reduce the port's impact to the area's air quality. The agreement, announced last week, extends the two agencies' partnership to 2018, more than a decade after first partnering in 2007.
"The Ports Authority, through its voluntary emissions-reduction efforts and its partnership with our agency, has committed to going above and beyond what is required," said Myra Reece, chief of DHEC's Bureau of Air Quality. "These efforts are significantly contributing to the region's air quality improvements."
The region's air meets or exceeds all state and federal air quality standards, and port-related emissions today are already lower than the report's findings.
The Port of Charleston's truck replacement program, which launched in late 2011, has replaced more than 60 of the port's frequently calling, pre-1994 drayage trucks with 2004 or newer models.
Additionally, the U.S. joined other nations in adopting new fuel standards for ocean-going vessels. The North American Emissions Control Area (ECA), a boundary extending 200 miles off the coast of North America, requires the use of low-sulfur content fuel and is providing further reductions to ship emissions than what was measured for 2011 operations.
While total vessel counts were down in 2011 versus 2005, the report indicates that the average engine size of ships calling Charleston has increased more than 45 percent since 2005, reflecting the trend toward larger vessels in global trade.
Using EPA emissions factors for these larger vessels, the air emissions report concludes that 2013 will see approximately 60 percent less PM and SO2 emissions from ships than occurred in 2011. By 2015 and the full implementation of ECA, PM and SO2 from all ships will be reduced by more than 80 percent compared to 2011. Beginning in 2016, all new ships additionally must meet stringent NOx emissions requirements.
The inventory projects similar improvement in total port-related air quality in the coming years. While the number varies by sector and by pollutant, the 2011 inventory calculates that by 2015 there will have been between an 80 to 90 percent reduction in the amount of criteria pollutants of most concern to public health and sensitive populations (PM and SO2).
In September 2008, the SCPA completed a first-in-the-Southeast air emissions inventory, measuring port-related air emissions across the Tri-County region in 2005. The emissions inventory provided a baseline of emissions sources and provides information for the evaluation of other possible reduction strategies.
Moffatt & Nichol of Long Beach, Calif. assembled the inventory, which covers emissions related to ships, trucks, trains, harbor craft and cargo handling equipment all the way from the sea buoy outside Charleston Harbor throughout the tri-county region.
A subsequent inventory to measure 2017 port-related air emissions will track the effect of the SCPA's truck replacement program that began in late 2011, additional repower projects for cargo-handling equipment and full implementation of new federal fuel standards for ocean-going vessels calling North American ports.
For the 2011 Port of Charleston Air Emissions Inventory, click here.
The South Carolina Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $63 billion annually while receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year. For more information, visit www.scspa.com.