The ports, officials said, are on the cutting edge of remaining friendly to business and caring for the environment.
“This is a great success story,” said Jerry R. Schubel, president and CEO of the aquarium. “The harbors are teeming with marine life.”
As of Jan. 1, fuel used in vessels that call at ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and other areas in North America, must contain no more than 0.1-percent sulfur.
The Aquarium of the Pacific hosted project data on its high-tech globe to illustrate environmental trends at the Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports. Port experts addressed the new rules in the Ocean Science Center. Long Beach, January 21, 2014. (Brittany Murray / Staff Photographer)
In addition to air and water quality issues, the panel also spoke about regulations applying to ballast water, which ships use to balance themselves while at sea. When water is taken from one area of the world and discharged as ballast in another part of the world, it can introduce invasive species.
Chris Cannon, director of environmental management for the Port of Los Angeles, said that regulations now call for ballast water exchange to be done in the open ocean and that systems to filter out or kill invasive species in the water are being tested and considered.
In the last ten years, the twin ports have successfully implemented a variety of clear air and water quality improvement strategies, said Richard Cameron, managing director of planning and environmental affairs for the Port of Long Beach.
“We’ve been tremendously successful,” he said. “I think we’ve built a great amount of trust and we have found a collaborative way to be able to continue to improve all of our port operations, build our infrastructure and be much more sustainable.”
Port officials say they are looking forward to continuing to provide a healthier environment for wildlife and for Long Beach and Los Angeles residents who live near the ports.
Cameron highlighted developments such as the port’s Middle Harbor project that will merge two old terminals into a new, megaterminal.
“We’re moving forward,” he said. “(When finished) it will be the first zero-emission terminal in the world.”
Cannon said the ports account for 43 percent of all imported goods that come into the United States, and highlighted some of the achievements from the last 10 years.
“The new regulations result in a 90 percent reduction in emissions from previous (regulatory levels),” he said.
Developments like so-called shore power, in which ships connect to electrical power rather than running auxiliary engines while at-berth, were pioneered at the Port of Los Angeles, he said. Shore power is now astate regulation. The two ports use of hybrid tug boats is also a major step toward reducing emissions.
“Our future is going to rely on moving toward zero emissions,” Cannon said.
Many of the changes taking place at the ports can be traced back to the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan, which was among California’s most aggressive mandates on lowering ship pollution when it was adopted in 2006.
Water quality has also improved with kelp and sea grass beds expanding, Cannon said. The kelp and sea grass provide an essential habitat for birds, fish and other animals.
For Cameron, although there is more work to accomplish emissions goals, the future looks bright.
“If you look at the overall culture of the maritime and other shipping industries, we’ve come a long way,” he said.
Contact Greg Yee at 562-499-1476.