CARB fines ships for bunker fuel – will Chinese ship comply in CA?

| 4/25/2011

Truck drivers have seen smog from oceanliners billowing above ports at left and right coasts for years, and wondered why environmental agencies like the California Air Resources Board haven’t seemed to punish these ships as often as trucks.

In reality, CARB does fine shipping lines for breaking emission rules.

CARB announced it has fined three European-based shippers a total of $161,000 for using bunker fuel while in regulated California waters.

Ships are required by a 2008 regulation to switch engines to cleaner, low-sulfur diesel while in the state-regulated waters within 24 miles of shore.

CARB fined Jumbo Shipping for its Daniella not switching before docking at the Port of Long Beach in December 2009; Beluga Fleet Management for its Recognition not switching prior to docking at the Port of San Diego in August 2009; and the Nova Galicia of Germany for failing to switch over before docking at the Port of Long Beach in April 2010.

CARB says it conducts an estimated 250 ship inspections each year. Will a noteworthy visit next week be the next?

On Tuesday, April 26, the Chinese vessel Red Strength is scheduled to dock for its first ever port call at Long Beach, CA.

News of the Grand China Shipping Company Ltd.-owned ship begs the question: Will CARB enforce its ban on bunker oil use near California’s coast?

CARB Spokeswoman Karen Caesar said that as of late Thursday, the Chinese shipper had not contacted the air quality agency about the fuel issue.

“At this time, we are not aware of any contact regarding this particular ship,” Caesar told Land Line Magazine in an email.

“As you may know, all applicable ocean going vessels must comply with our OGV fuel regulation and burn low sulfur marine fuel when they are within the Regulated California Waters,” she said.

“Our enforcement division conducts random on-ship inspections and will take fuel samples,” Caesar said, “then our lab tests them to make sure they are below the sulfur limit for that particular grade of fuel. We check record-keeping as well, as required by the rule.”