Report: Chinese terminal at Port of Los Angeles failed 11 emissions measures

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 10/15/2015

For years, the Port of Los Angeles billed itself as “an environmental leader in the industry,” as it banned older diesel trucks and enacted an expensive concessionaire plan that funded controversial replacements for some motor carriers.

The port and its then executive director, Geraldine Knatz, were cast on a reality television series as “America’s Port.” Even the port’s logo included a stroke of green to highlight LA’s environmental focus.

A new report says one major shipping terminal failed to implement as many as 11 measures designed to cut emissions at the port – leaving one major environmental player fuming.

Officials at the Port of Los Angeles recently confirmed it had started a supplemental environmental impact review of the China Shipping Container Line terminal. The China Shipping Container Line reportedly waited to expand for seven years in the early 2000s while a lawsuit between the port and the National Resources Defense Council played out.

Journal of Commerce reports that the port is examining whether some of the emissions mitigation measures need to be revisited and standards lowered. The China Shipping Container Line failed to meet a requirement that all vessels at berth operate from electrical power, as well as requirements that vessel speed be reduced within 30 nautical miles of berth and use liquefied petroleum gas for yard tractors. The port will also look into whether liquid natural gas trucks should be required for drayage trucks and other emissions standards for yard equipment.

According to the port, the China Shipping Container Line terminal moves an estimated 20 percent of all container volume at its 130-acre property at the Port of Los Angeles.

During an Oct. 7 meeting, Port of Los Angeles General Manager Gene Seroka said the measures originally sought in 2008 were largely met and pointed out many emissions levels were ahead of schedule to meet goals set out seven years earlier.

“At the time … many of these measures had never been attempted anywhere in the world,” Seroka said. “The Port believed, at the time, that these measures, although far-reaching, were realistic and could be accomplished within a reasonable timeframe. And many of the measures have been accomplished.”

Seroka pointed specifically to emissions measurements at the China Shipping Container Line terminal that “have been below what was predicted in the 2008 EIR,” he said.

“This is due to the reduced levels of China Shipping’s operations compared to what was predicted in the new EIR, and the Port’s efforts to reduce emissions port-wide.”

Seroka also credited the Clean Air Action Plan adopted by the Los Angeles port and its sister port in Long Beach. The CAAP implemented a $100 million Clean Trucks Program that used container fees to fund truck replacements.  The program was later investigated after some motor carriers accepted new trucks through the program but rarely used them at the port.

David Pettit, a Natural Resources Defense Council attorney, told the Los Angeles Times he believed the port knew the mitigation efforts were failing for years and didn’t tell anybody.

“The issue now is what to do about it,” Pettit said, according to the Times.

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