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newsrel -- Clean fuel-use for ships off California coast deliver huge clean-air benefits

Posted: 16 May 2011 13:04:19
Dramatic reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions measured. 

Print Release

Release #:11-18

ARB PIO: (916) 322-2990

Stanley Young

Dimitri Stanich

Research shows clean fuel-use for ships off California coast
deliver huge clean-air benefits

Dramatic reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions measured

SACRAMENTO - Data collected during a major 2010 state-federal
atmospheric research project reveal that the first-in-the-nation
regulation requiring ocean-going vessels to use clean fuel when
near the California coast has been extremely effective in
reducing sulfur dioxide pollution from ships.

The data were gathered during the CalNex 2010 field study
organized by the California Air Resources Board and the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“These scientific findings clearly demonstrate that ships off our
coast are now emitting significantly less sulfur pollution than
in the past,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “This is good
news for California, and for the nation.  In 2015, when the
federal regulations kick in for ships to use low-sulfur fuel,
communities throughout America that live near shipping lanes and
next to ports will see clean air benefits.”

The California data were compared to ship-plume measurements made
by NOAA near the Port of Houston, Texas in 2006. One finding was
that container ships encountered off the Port of Houston, where
no clean-fuel use is required, emitted four times as much sulfur

Ships, especially ocean-going vessels, are powered by very large
diesel engines that generate a tremendous amount of pollution
impacting air quality onshore. For some coastal counties in
California, ships are the largest source of sulfur dioxide

CalNex 2010, the first field study to investigate air quality,
climate change and their nexus in California involved years of
preparation, and was supported by three aircraft, a research
vessel and dozens of researchers on the ground to measure
atmospheric pollution levels.

NOAA researchers on the ship Atlantis focused on various sources
of emissions, air quality and meteorology along the California
coast and in the San Francisco Bay.  The 274-foot research vessel
was equipped with state-of-the-art instruments and examined the
composition of emissions from more than 70 passing ships over 24
days.  The researchers also found that every ship in California
waters whose emissions were measured was using low-sulfur fuel,.

More findings from the CalNex research on a variety of subjects,
from the formation of ozone to the interactions of particles and
clouds, are being presented at a four-day workshop May 16 through
19 in Sacramento, California.  

The 2008 ocean-going vessel fuel-use regulation requires all
ocean-going vessels within 24 nautical miles of California's
coastline use cleaner-burning diesel fuel to reduce emissions of
sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and diesel particulate matter, a
known carcinogen. Since the regulation began implementation in
2009, ships have made over 18,000 visits to California ports
using the lower-sulfur marine distillates rather than the highly
polluting heavy-fuel oil, often called bunker fuel.

For the seminar’s agenda go to:

ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare,
and ecological resources through effective reduction of air
pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the
economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in
California to attain and maintain health based air quality

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